Combined Reviews: Piano Lessons by Anna Goldsworthy

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piano_lessons.jpg    Piano Lessons
Anna Goldsworthy
Black Inc Publishing

[This memoir has been shortlisted for the Best Writing Award of the 2012 Melbourne Prize for Literature.]

From the publisher's page:
In this remarkable memoir, Anna Goldsworthy recalls her first steps towards a life in music, from childhood piano lessons with a local jazz muso to international success as a concert pianist. As she discovers passion and ambition, and confronts doubt and disappointment, she learns about much more than tone and technique. This is a story of the getting of wisdom, tender and bittersweet.

With wit and affection, Goldsworthy captures the hopes and uncertainties of youth, the fear and exhilaration of performing, and the complex bonds between teacher and student. An unforgettable cast of characters joins her: her family; her friends and rivals; and her teacher, Mrs Sivan, who inspires and challenges her in equal measure, and who transforms what seems an impossible dream into something real and sustaining.


Zora Simic for "The Monthly": "At first glance, Anna Goldsworthy's memoir, Piano Lessons, appears rather modest: she revisits her childhood and adolescence in comfortably suburban Adelaide, with the passing years marked by her development as a classical pianist under the tutelage of her piano teacher, Mrs Eleanora Sivan, a Russian émigré and one of a formidable line of teachers dating back to the nineteenth-century Hungarian composer Franz Liszt...what Goldsworthy manages to pull off in Piano Lessons is far richer than a mere catalogue of achievements or self-congratulatory reminiscence. With eloquent flair and deft insight, she manages to convey the magical effects of fine teaching, an often-mysterious process that can easily turn attempts at translation into utter cliché. Here, however, the student matches the teacher: the memoir can be read as a product of their shared labours. Goldsworthy's writing, like Mrs Sivan's pedagogic style, is both disciplined and impassioned - and sometimes cleverly revealing - with just the right amount of self-mockery."

Lisa Hill on the "ANZ LitLovers LitBlog": "Gifted in every way, Goldsworthy set herself one target after another: academically, a scholarship to Pembroke, top marks and dux of school; musically, mastering a progression of composers, collecting A+ exam results, prizes in performance and a scholarship to the Texan Christian University. She tells this story with honesty and self-deprecating humour, sharing her earnest adolescent efforts to be like the other girls, her ineptitude behind the wheel of a car, and the compulsive thought processes that guide her through the terrors of rehearsal and performance."

"Publishers Weekly": "Australian pianist Goldsworthy was nine years old when she began instruction with the renowned Russian pianist Eleonora Sivan, now relocated to Adelaide. Their pupil-master relationship grew and deepened over the next decade, rendered here in serene, clear, elegant prose, as Goldsworthy, the child of two doctors and musicians, blossomed into a stunning stage force and a vessel of Sivan's deeply intuitive music instruction. Over her meticulous stages of instruction, Sivan took on each composer in turn--Bach was like God, she noted, offering 'peace, of course, and bells,' while Mozart was like Midas, 'every sound he touches turns into song'--and Goldsworthy tidily arranges her memoir according to their embarking on these composers' works, from Shostakovich to Liszt."


Andrea Goldsmith for "Readings".
Richard Fidler for ABC Radio "Local Conversations".
Helen Garner on "Slow TV".


The book launch on "YouTube":

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 27, 2012 9:03 PM.

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Poem: Songs That I Know by A.G. MacGregor is the next entry in this blog.

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