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Play to the Angel

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  213 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Austria in 1938 is under the shadow of the Nazis, but twelve-year-old Greta doesn't notice-she cares only for her piano lessons with their new neighbor, a teacher with a mysterious past. Herr Hummel believes in Greta, and she begins to prepare for a recital. Then the Nazis invade, and Greta discovers her teacher's secret. His life is in danger, and she may be the only one ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 5th 2002 by Puffin Books (first published August 31st 2000)
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Aug 04, 2015 Jaina rated it really liked it
Shelves: blogged
This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.

This is a beautiful book that I'd read a long time ago, but almost completely forgotten. Seeing it in a bin at a book swap, I snatched it and brought it home so I could re-read it (and also, figure out which book it was - I had it muddled up with another WWII book that I still haven't been able to track down).

It really is a great story, and even though I can never entirely relate to piano-prodigy main characters (because who'm I kidding? I
Miss Amanda
gr 5-8 186 pgs

1938, Vienna, Austria. 12 year old Greta loves playing the piano more than anything else. But since the death of her older brother who was a prodigy at the piano, Greta's mother can't stand anything to do with music and is determined to sell the family's piano. Greta is determined to become a famous pianist and convinces Herr Hummel, her friend's neighbor, to give her lessons. He encourages her and wants her to perform in a recital at the Vienna Academy of Music and Performing Arts
Karla Burrow
Aug 05, 2013 Karla Burrow rated it really liked it
This book is about a girl, Greta, whi has a gift playing the piano. Her older brother was wonderful at it, so she thought she would follow in his footsteps and play the poano as well. One daym while Greta is visiting a friend, she sees that a new naighbor has moved into the apartment downstairs. The man that moved there taught piano and agreed to teach Greta to play. Whenever Greta got scared or nervous about playing the piano, her teacher said to play to his angel orniment. Soon after her lesso ...more
Betty Strohecker
May 22, 2015 Betty Strohecker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-and-youth
The setting is 1938 Austria, and twelve-year-old Greta is anxious to pursue her dream of becoming a pianist. However, her mother intends to sell their piano after the death of Greta's teenage piano prodigy brother, which has sent her mother into depression. When Greta discovers their new downstairs neighbor, Herr Hummel, is a pianist, he agrees to give her lessons. But these are dangerous times in Austria with Hitler poised to take over the country. Although oblivious to much of what is going on ...more
May 15, 2009 Emily rated it liked it
Set in Vienna in the early months of 1938, this is a readable if slightly over-earnest story of a Greta, a 12 year old who wishes to become a pianist against her mother's wishes, and the recently arrived German retired concert pianist (with a mysterious past) who helps her. The plot is somewhat predictable to anyone with an awareness of the period -- Greta's first ever public recital is scheduled for March 12 -- but the book grew on me as I read it. It doesn't transcend the boundaries of middle ...more
Sena Khateeb
May 17, 2013 Sena Khateeb rated it liked it
A nicely written story about a girl's dream to become a pianist. I enjoyed it, but I thought the story was going too fast in the first couple of chapters.
Greta is very brave, even if she doesn't realize it at the beginning. She was brave in her choice to take lessons at Herr Hummel, in confronting her mother when the latter said she wouldn't go to her recital, and in saving Herr Hummel's life... That is what I liked about her most.
The girl on the cover seems too big for a 12 year old girl- but p
Feb 11, 2011 Dotty rated it really liked it
Greta Radky dreams of being a concert pianist, and, as she practices for her first big recital, she tries to ignore the rising Nazi presence. Despite her mother's opposition, Greta secretly takes lessons with a kind music professor,Herr Hummel, who fled Germany after helping Jews escape. He helps her with her music and builds her self-confidence. The suspense of her recital grows, and her performance is a triumph. The same night, however, Hitler takes over in Austria, and the Nazis riot and roun ...more
Nov 13, 2011 Bronwyn rated it really liked it
a young girl in nazi occupied austria longs to be a concert pianist like her late brother, despite her mothers opposition, so unknown to her mother she arranges for her own lessons from a man she does not know is a world famous pianist, who is living under an assumed name to escape from the nazis. then comes her first piano recital and finally risking her life to help her teacher and friend escape the country after the nazis discover his secret
Scott Hayden
Oct 02, 2016 Scott Hayden rated it liked it
Sweet story with classical music and historical setting in Vienna. The author knows more than a little about piano playing, music, and Hitler's takeover of Austria. Some good detail there for young readers to absorb.

The writing is sometimes plain, though the story moves along, so there's no time for boredom. The main character's climactic speech to her mother borders on disrespect, even though her mother needed to hear it.
Caitlin Lillie
Dec 11, 2013 Caitlin Lillie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely amazing read about music, Nazis, self-confidence, living up to siblings, making new friends... and it didn't feel like it was too much at all! I especially liked the bits about Nina playing the piano; it was obvious how much she loved it and Maurine F. Dahlberg just put that into words so well.
Sep 17, 2015 Nancy rated it really liked it
So good to watch our heroine become confident. Once again we see the evils of Nazi Germany's lack of humanity, and thirst for power at the expense of their own souls. Satan had a hey-day with that era.
Jan 24, 2016 Maybellestyle rated it it was amazing
A childhood favourite that I re-read recently. The details from everyday Viennese life were on-point and Greta's growth throughout the story is inspirational. Excellent book for music lovers and history fans. It's accessible to younger readers butworks well for older ones, too.
Stephanie Weeks
Oct 26, 2011 Stephanie Weeks rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I got this book in 4th grade, and still have it on my shelf. A beautiful story, and very historically accurate. My favorite book:)
Leen Kateeb
Jan 18, 2014 Leen Kateeb rated it really liked it
Jan 08, 2010 MadILYnne rated it liked it
This is a really good book, especially if you just want a short read. :)
Rachel Noffke
Oct 17, 2008 Rachel Noffke rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Pianists
This was really sweet.
Sep 18, 2012 Emma rated it it was amazing
I loved this story. I am thoroughly interested in non-fiction and fiction stories taking place in World War II. It was thoroughly touching, and tear-welling. I just loved this story.
Apr 03, 2008 Kayla added it
ohhh, it was great!
Maggie D.
Nov 30, 2010 Maggie D. rated it really liked it
You either love it or hate it.
Mazzou B
Jul 08, 2015 Mazzou B rated it liked it
Would have preferred it if it had been nonfiction. Also, not incredibly exciting but an interesting read anyhow.
Mar 05, 2011 Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the first books I've ever bought and read. The story is highly engaging and speaks to readers of all ages.
Red Is
Jul 24, 2008 Red Is rated it liked it
if you hate your life plz pick this book up!!!!
Jan 02, 2010 Paige rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
pretty good, touching story, but nothing to write home about
Katelyn Bosch
Katelyn Bosch rated it it was amazing
Oct 28, 2008
Shelby Cohen
Shelby Cohen rated it it was amazing
Dec 04, 2014
Sasori No Danna
Sasori No Danna rated it did not like it
Jun 20, 2010
Joann rated it really liked it
Mar 23, 2013
Karina rated it really liked it
Mar 15, 2012
Amy Lafleur
Amy Lafleur rated it really liked it
Jul 03, 2016
Shantelle rated it liked it
Aug 11, 2012
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MAURINE F. DAHLBERG is the author of Escape to West Berlin, an NCSS-CBC Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, and two other novels for young readers. She lives in Springfield, Virginia.
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“Sometimes it's easier to be the one who leaves than the one who is left behind.” 4 likes
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