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The Pianist in the Dark: A Novel

3.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  131 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
A stirring novel of love and music inspired by the life of pianist Maria-Theresa von Paradis, a blind virtuoso who was a contemporary of Mozart and Salieri

Maria-Theresa von Paradis, the only daughter of the secretary of the empress of Austria, was an exceptionally gifted child. By the age of seventeen, she was a full-fledged virtuoso, playing for the royal family, acclaime
Kindle Edition
Published (first published July 12th 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 383)
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Based on the true story of Maria-Theresa von Paradis, the only daughter of the secretary of the empress of Austria, and her interactions with Franz Anton Mesmer, a doctor and the source of the term mesmerism, The Pianist in the Dark by Michéle Halberstadt is ultimately about the price of sight. Maria-Theresa was musical prodigy. Blind from unknown causes since she was about three, she played beautifully and with great passion before the court in Austria. She was filled with a talent that eclipse ...more
Connie Mayo
I picked this up out of the New Fiction section of our library mostly because it was an incredibly slim novel - 140 pages. I was just intrigued at how a novel of that length would be. And I guess it was sort of what I thought it would be - it felt like an expanded short story. The premise is interesting - a blind upper-crust daughter of a government official in Mozart-era Austria is treated by Franz Mesmer. One is lead to believe that all the characters were actual historical figures (I know Mes ...more
Grade: C-

LOVED the premise, but unfortunately the storytelling was really lacking - awkward POV changes, strange and inconsistent verb tense choices (I almost DNFed by chapter two), and a whole lot of telling instead of showing.

Rather than allow the amazing character of Maria Theresia to tell her own story, the author veered between dry historical recitations and long philosophical monologues. A few truly emotional scenes, like the confrontation with an opposing physician and brief moment during
Will Manuel
Aug 21, 2011 Will Manuel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
That's the last time I believe the Good Butler's recommendations. This "book" wasted my time.
Aug 19, 2011 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The man behind the word “mesmerize” and the young girl he tries to cure of blindness. She is a piano protégée in late 18th century Vienna. He is a doctor who believes in “animal magnetism.” She falls in love with him. He tries to save his professional reputation. They’re both victims, in different ways, and power shifts quietly.

At different times, I felt sorry for both of them and disappointed in both of them. Neither character came alive to me, and I was completely unmoved by their affair. I di
Feb 06, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it
"Man is more attractive when he is left to the imagination"

So goes the opinion of Maria Theresia van Paradis also known as the "Blind virtuoso" she was an accomplished pianist in the court of Vienna. She was friends with Mozart and others of her time.

This book details the way that one man wanted to "cure" her blindness with a new found medical technique. Yet even the details of the procedures he used left me skeptical.

And Maria Theresia found that reality wasn't as pretty as she thought it mig
What a superb book! Michele Halberstadt tells a more enthralling story in less than 200 pages than many writers can tell in 600. What adds to this gem that is that it is based on a true story, the fascinating life of Marie Theresia von Paradis, a beautiful and blind prodigy and student of Salieri and friend of Mozart.

Maria Theresia has been blind since a child, believed to have been caused by trauma, but the author leaves you to decide what it might have been caused by. All her life renowned doc
Dec 12, 2011 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Over the years, I have become more and more frustrated by the apparent death of the editor. Whether it's typos or bad grammar or the use of ten pages to tell the reader what can be told in one (I won't name any names, but surely we all know plenty of examples), it all speaks to the fact that editing seems to have become a victim of profit margins even as successful writers have begun to flex their muscles with their publishing houses. So for that reason alone, this was a wonderful, wonderful boo ...more
Feb 16, 2012 M rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many people take piano lessons when they are young. I know I did. I spent almost six years in piano and still can not play to save my life. However some kids can play really well, and a few of them are incredibly talented. Such as Maria-Theresa von Paradis, who was not only an amazing pianist but was also blind. She is portrayed in a novella called Pianist in the Dark by Michéle Halberstadt. Maria-Theresa can not see but is one of the best pianist of her age. However her parents take her to an e ...more
Dec 25, 2015 Tracy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This story was ok. I think the words themselves are beautifully presented; I just didn't care much for the storyline. It was hard to like either Maria-Theresa or Mesmer, both of whom, incidentally, I had no idea were based on real historical figures.
May 01, 2014 Lana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author gives us great insight into the loss of sight. I simply loved the characters and enjoyed the story. Reading this novel shows how someone with special talents can get through almost any horrors to come out a winner.
Kathy Barton
Dec 30, 2013 Kathy Barton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story - it is about the blind daughter of the Von Paradis family - Maria-Theresa. She goes blind at the age of 3, and her father, who serves as the secretary for the empress of Austria, takes her to many doctors to find a cure for her. She finds that she is quite a Pianist as she grows up. She then is sent to live with Dr. Mesmer, where she falls in love with him and he helps her to start to see shadows.

One thing she does not realize is that getting her eye sight back takes away her abili
Oct 06, 2011 Christy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are looking for a good but short book, this one is perfect. The story summarizes the life of Maria-Theresa, a pianist who lost her site at the age of 3. For fifteen years, she was blind, and during that time, mastered the piano in nearly the same ways as Mozart. Her fathered forced upon her several doctors to try to cure her blindness before she asked him to stop. The final doctor, whom she agrees to herself, is successful in helping, however it affects her ability to play. All the while, ...more
Feb 11, 2012 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was a pleasant diversion on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Blind pianist in the court of the Empress of Austria.
She is "cured" by the (in)famous Anton Mesmer.
I guess the only part that bothered me was that she made extreme choices re: her body based on what could be construed as a failed love affair. I could see how someone could look at this and interpret that this woman was so influenced by strong male figures in her life, was possibly even devalued by them. But the argument could also be made th
Delie Dell Chua
Boring and the story is very dry... No emotions. Was very disappointed
Tara Chevrestt
I'm not sure what went wrong here.. This book, the ebook of it, went on sale for Cyber Monday and I bought it.. Well, apparently the kindle edition is not the entire book, but seems to be an abridged version (approx 100 pages.. I can tell by how quickly the percentage went by) with all the dialogue taken out. I read two chapters? And not a word of dialogue. As is normally the case with translated books, it's all telling, no showing. I bailed.
Interesting. I had never heard of Maria-Teresia von Paradis before, but now I want to know more about her. This was a good introduction but it was lacking. I felt that it glossed over a lot of things. That could be because of the length of the story or it could be because of the style Ms. Halberstadt decided to use. In any case, I will be looking up more information about this virtuoso pianist who rivaled Mozart.
Thomas Barreca
The story of a blind pianist who was a student of Salieri's and a friend of Mozart's. It was a quick read, with short chapters. Unfortunately, I assumed that the novel was about music. But it was actually about the pianist's blindness, the attempts to cure her, her relationships with her parents and her doctor, and her feelings about all of that. So I was disappointed in the book. But it was well written.
Georgia Balchin
It didn't get boring! A really good read! Nice and short and a suitable ending :) It had the potential to be long and drawn out to the point of nearly going to sleep every time the book was opened but that didn't happen! It was a nice short read :) Good to read on a rainy afternoon ;P Really... I don't know how to explain it... truthful? That's not the right word but it's really interesting :)
Aug 06, 2013 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed at the lack of historical reference (yeah she gave me some dates but I'd be interested to see more interaction with Mozart, etc.) but I was intrigued by the writing. Most notably when it came to description, especially of feeling. I like the story and its simplicity and I'd recommend this book as a quick way to grab your attention.
Dec 11, 2013 Clara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, always so interesting to read a musician-book. Didn't know anything about this lady and wow, what a life! Her life was like an opera. Surprised that there haven't been anything of that yet! It's only interesting for historical purpose so I won't recommend unless you are a musician. A pretty quick read.
Aug 11, 2013 Bobby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A charming and warmly written story about Marie Theresia Paradis who went blind in her youth and still became a world renowned piano virtuoso. Its hard to give a review of her life without a series of spoilers so I will simply say its a touching, short and very worthwhile read....enjoy.
Dec 08, 2011 Anne rated it liked it
This was a good book, well- written, even though the prose could get very stiff sometimes. Very short. I'm a little confused as to whether it's based on historical people. The book was almost like an outline or an idea that could've been fleshed out into a longer novel.
Mar 20, 2012 Clarissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: enjoyed
I found it short and very sweet. I needn't sum it up more than that. It was nice to read before bed and it made me feel for Maria Theresia. What an inspirational woman and brave. Giving up on sight to dedicate herself to the music she so passionately loved.
Aug 16, 2011 Susan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by Head Butler. Very short too!

"The Pianist in the Dark:Two weeks after I wrote about this short, wonderful novel, several of you have written to tell me how much they enjoyed it. That’s happened before, but never so soon."
Aug 07, 2011 Rhonda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
Maria-Theresia, born in Austria in the 1700's, is an exceptionally gifted pianist, at a very early age...however, she is blind. Her father, seeks the help of many healers to try and help regain her sight, lost at the age of three.
Jul 24, 2012 Vonia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Halberstadt's writing was very impressive... However, the story layout, construction, pacing, etc... didn't exhibit her full potential, as there are particular paragraphs in the book that are nothing short of beautiful.
Jun 23, 2012 Rebecca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It is a slice of a story, liked the main character. Wished the author had decided to write either a biography or historical fiction, this book couldn't decide what it wanted to be so it faultered.
Quick read and interestingly written. Blindness and music have a lot in common in that they often can't be completely understood in words. The author brought that through well.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Aug 31, 2015 09:06AM  
  • Pyotr Ilyich
  • Rembrandt's Whore
  • Mozart's Sister
  • Carnevale
  • Obedience
  • Season of Light
  • Music of a Life
  • Promise the Night
  • Memoirs of a Bitch
  • In the Night Cafe
  • Vivaldi's Virgins
  • The Student Conductor
  • A Royal Likeness
  • Marrying Mozart
  • Scherzo: Murder and Mystery in 18th Century Venice
  • Hester Roon
  • Shadows on our Skin
  • Midnight Fires (Mary Wollstonecraft, #1)

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“Confidence is not a wilted plant that can be brought back to life with a bit of water. It is a highly flammable object. Doubt sets it aflame and destroys it irreparably.” 6 likes
“Man is more attractive when left to the imagination.” 2 likes
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