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3.4  ·  Rating details ·  1,608 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
Against the backdrop of Darwin, that small, tropical hothouse of a port, half-outback, half-oriental, lying at the tip of northern Australia, a young and newly arrived southerner encounters the 'maestro', a Viennese refugee with a shadowed past. the occasion is a piano lesson, the first of many...
149 pages
Published August 29th 2002 by HarperCollins (first published 1981)
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Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Peter Goldsworthy’s Darwin. In Maestro, the setting, vibrantly alive, is a character in its own right.

Darwin circa 1967 may seem an unlikely place for literary inspiration, but Peter Goldsworthy’s, Maestro, with its exotic setting and the emotions he attaches to it, is an irresistible combination. Music infuses the story and it is at a piano lesson, that the teenage Paul Crabbe, a recent arrival from the south, encounters the maestro, a refugee from Vienna with a shady past.

I hoped to experience
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great read! And I see in some reviews that this has been on the Australian school syllabus, at least in the past, if not presently. Not in my day - because it hadn't been written - but if I had read this as a teenager I think it would have easily got 5 stars from me.

I read Maestro for its Darwin location, and for me, the setting is one of two things about this book that absolutely shone. Having lived in Darwin for a few years myself, albeit much later than this story is set, I was instant
Hexa Deville
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I will never again doubt the decisions of the Australian high school English syllabus. Time after time I have riddled it with doubt and skepticism and time after time it has proven e wrong.

Maestro, though absurd in its opening pages, certainly fills readers with a longing by the end of the book. Adults, a longing for lost childhoods, children, a longing to not lose what precious time we have, and above all, a longing to have a mentor able to rival the genius of Keller.

This book teaches its reade
Rachael Turner
Mar 10, 2011 rated it liked it
it was okay but kind of a downer...
Objectively this book is…fine. Nothing wrong with it, except maybe the fact that the protagonist is so self-absorbed. But he’s self-aware by the end so even that is mitigated. I don’t know. It was compelling but I don’t think I liked it.
Tanya Grech Welden
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this as a year 12 student in 1993. It has stayed with me since, a sensitively written story about a student and a teacher. I can't wait for my son to be old enough to read it...he loves music and plays piano. The only problem I had with the book was that physically its pages literally fell apart.....I hope that the publisher did something about that because it was too beautiful to ever part with.
Nicole Catalan
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: school-reads
Paul was the most annoying protagonist ever- I acknowledge that he may be one of the most realest- but that doesn't deter from the fact that I still find him extremely annoying. I guess I'll never cut this book some slack; it was detrimental over analysing EVERYTHING for my Authority English exam so I guess it's always going to leave a trauma imprint on me. It wasn't my cup of tea...
Oct 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A book of great beauty and sensitivity that has stayed with me for years. Reread recently, it speaks of the growing of a youth into the reality of adulthood, and of the ageing of our dreams, and the realisation of our own enduring ordinariness, with clarity and wit and love.
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The only time I've ever thanked the English syllabus
Mar 05, 2014 rated it did not like it
This novel was dry and drab, apart from instances where you could have developed the plot, it fell back into a boring bottomless pit. Why is it that school books are always the worst?
Kyle LJ
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars - a lovely book. Very nostalgic and warm, full of very Australian lushness and atmosphere. Like the smell of rain, but instead the vividness of humid nights, mangroves that seemingly seep from the mainland, or searing sun on the back of your neck. As an Australian, it was quite lovely to see these indiosyncracies described in pleasant prose. The story was then wrapped in music (a personal love) and resolved characters, keeping their distinctive qualities despite their changing (change ...more
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian, owned
Short but poignant. Loved the Darwin setting
This short novel, is primarily based in Darwin in the late 1960s, where a boy Paul Crabbe is taught piano by his teacher 'Maestro', Eduard Keller. Paul has a lot of misgivings about his teacher at first, mostly noting that he was a boozer uncontemporary and distant but by the end of the novel he admired him a lot. This tale depicts Pauls growing up in the hot tropical town, his ability at music, his adolescence and his relationship with his parents and his sweetheart, Rosie.

I loved this book. Pa
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a story about Paul Crabbe and centers on his relationship with his parents and his strict piano teacher Eduard Keller. I enjoyed the light touch of humour, freshness and familiarity of Darwin and the odd tense moments of discovery.
Bianca Miani
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this as a teenager but not for school so i never had to dissect it and i could just enjoy it.
I don’t think I would have made the trip to Darwin without this books influence, the author describes the humid town perfectly.
Set in the late 1960s the main focus is a teenage boys relationship with his music teacher music who happens to be a Viennese refugee.
But its the relationships he has with two girls from his school that touched me the most, we see this boy/mans arrogance as he uses his mus
Feb 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
I just finnished this book recently, had to read it for school.
Now, I don't know about you, but my school has serious issues with chosing books. This is one of - close to the only - book my school has ever chosen that is decent.
I love this book, the whole book is about music, and that is a huge part of my life, this book hits close to home. (even if the main character is a complete stuck up selfish self centred ass).
If you have music as a big part of your life, than this is definatley a book for
Jan 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Whoever
Recommended to Lauren by: School
I found this quite boring and didn't really enjoy it. I do however, like the relationship between the Maestro and Paul towards the end. How the Maestro confesses his loving relationship for the boy.
Meredith Walker
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
“Maestro” is a beautiful novel. The sensitively written story about a student and a teacher is of Darwin in the late 1960s, where a boy Paul Crabbe is taught piano by his teacher 'Maestro', Eduard Keller. Paul has a lot of misgivings about his teacher at first, but by the end of the novel he admires him a lot. The writing is excellent in imagery and description of Darwin and then capture of the emotions of is characters. Indeed, this short novel is so full of emotion as to encourage repeat readi ...more
Oct 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
if it wasn't for the fact that it's owned by the school, i wouldn't hesitate to destroy all evidence of its existence. a complete nightmare – but definitely an accurate portrayal of pretentious south australian teenage boys who think they're clever because they play piano. paul crabbe is the fictional (& musical) equivalent of chris degroot.
J Burns
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable read. Beautifully written, evocative, coming of age story about a teenage boy and his eccentric and mysterious piano teacher.
Roxanne Millar
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A short but great read. Such vivid writing. Well drawn characters. Musical to read.
Kathryn Elmer
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Brilliant coming of age book based in Australia. Hilarious in most of its entity with a great background into the music of the era (just post WW||)
Carolyn Mck
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I picked this up from a friend’s shelf recently - it had been a long time since I read a Goldsworthy novel. This one was published in 1989 and as it seemed vaguely familiar I must have read it back then. (It was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin.) The ‘maestro’ of the title is Herr Eduard Keller, a music teacher in Darwin with a mysterious past (Nazi? Jewish refugee?) and the story is told as a memoir and coming of age story of the narrator Paul Crabbe. The novel evokes life in Darwin before Cy ...more
Sean Crawley
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book.
Kay Hart
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Couldn't stop reading this one. I like Peter Goldsworthy's writing having come across his short stories. The development of a relationship around the central theme of music whilst not necessarily a new theme is dealt with in a most refreshingly insightful way in this novel. Then there's the element of 'coming-of-age' that almost tattered reference to a story that documents youthful passage into the next phase of the transition from child through youth to almost adult.
Paul Crabbe the young pianis
Peter Holford
Once he had valued Mozart above all others: Mozart shines like the sun, he would murmur, his face tilting upwards, slightly, as if towards some imagined source of light and warmth, his eyes shining. (p144)

This is a well-written, enjoyable work that successfully mixes adolescent coming-of-age in 1960s tropical Darwin with the heights of European culture: Liszt, Beethoven, Mozart and more. Seem unlikely? Well Peter Goldsworthy does it well. Apparently somewhat autobiographical (the author grew up
Mia Reilly
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Maestro is an inspiring, reflective and life changing novel. Reading the first few pages was all it took to get me addicted, all I thought about was this fascinating book. However, I could never place my finger on why I was in love. As I turned over the last page of the book I realised that my addiction was due to the rawness, the realness, of this novel. Reading this made me never want to take a second of my life for granted, well done Goldsworthy !!
Peter Goldsworthy's daughter, Anna, is a classical pianist and author of the delightful Piano Lessons: A Memoir. Her father was ever-present during her lessons with her extraordinary teacher, Eleanora Sivan and throughout her memoir she refers to him and to his writing of this classic novella of 20th Century Australia. The two books, though written 20 years apart, resonate between each other with wonderful homage to the art and craft of teaching music to young people. In Maestro, the setting is ...more
Sep 12, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for school and found that ultimately, the plot missed the point. It set itself up to be a coming of age story, yet Paul seems to become more immature if anything as time passes. Herr Keller's backstory is treated as plot rather than character background. For so much of the book Paul is curious about his teacher's past, going behind his back and looking for answers as if it were some sort of game, prodding for information, rather than recognising the reality that his teacher had gone ...more
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
The far-north Australian town of Darwin used to be, more or less literally, at the end of the world. Cut off from normal communication by road for the three or four months of the annual wet season, Darwin used to go into a winter hibernation unlike anything known to North Americans or Europeans. This is the tropical setting of a fine novel by the writer Peter Goldsworthy.

I used to think that Darwin was the sort of place in which anything might happen. With its transient population of seasonal wo
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Peter Goldsworthy grew up in various Australian country towns, finishing his schooling in Darwin. After graduating in medicine from the University of Adelaide in 1974, he worked for many years in alcohol and drug rehabiiltation. Since then, he has divided his time equally between writing and general practice. He has won major literary awards across a range of genres: poetry, short story, the novel ...more
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“We must know when to move on. To search too long for perfection can also paralyse.” 9 likes
“Only the second-rate never make mistakes.” 4 likes
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