I was both shocked and sad to learn of the death of Michael Purves-Smith who was a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University. He was my harpsichord teacher and he coached our closely-knit Early Music Ensemble, always going the extra mile in his pedagogy.

He drove us all to NYC for a medieval conference, helped us to organize tours and major productions. Our ensemble worked hard, rehearsing at 8:00 am in the morning, and (as I repeatedly tell my own students) I practiced harpsichord two hours every day. And that’s true. Michael made we want to do well.

This article in the KW record is lovely, and describes him just as I would – a Renaissance Man. He was one of the most eclectic people I’ve known with an interest in everything, playing both oboe and harpsichord, conducting, writing novels, and being a perpetual student of history and current affairs.
Click here to read the article:
KW Record

The article says he never raised his voice. I’d have to disagree with that. As my one-on–one harpsichord teacher for several years, I know he was frustrated by me several times. I was a very stupid and stubborn student. Fortunately I had a chance to apologize to him when he gave a concert of his music here in Toronto, and launched his new sci-fi novel. I’m so glad I could spend that evening with him at the reception that followed the performance at the Canadian Music Centre.

My sympathy goes out to Shannon, his partner in life as well as in music, and his son Rob, and especially to his oldest son Mike, who I was privileged to have as my student at York University.
Rest in peace Michael.


Michael Purves-Smith

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3 Responses to Michael Purves-Smith RIP

  1. Brian Power says:

    I fondly remember several good conversations with Michael, mostly concerning a collection of early music instruments owned by Brock University (where he founded a Collegium musicum in the 1970s) and later sold to the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto where I had the pleasure of playing some of them as an undergrad!

  2. Stephanie Martin says:

    Yes! Michael took me to the preview of those instruments where I observed a green harpsichord by Matthew Redsell. I couldn’t afford that big French double as a student. But it turned up several years later as a rental in Toronto, painted flat black. Matthew Redsell sold it to me. I re-painted it and had a Latin motto in gold letters applied. It’s now lives at York University, known fondly as ‘Big Blue.’

  3. Sheila Campbell says:

    My condolences Steph on the loss of your friend. Our paths never crossed, but he sounds like a wonderful person to have known and to have in one’s memories.

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