iano Lessons is a story of the getting of wisdom, tender and bittersweet.
In this superb and original memoir, Anna Goldsworthy recalls her first steps towards a life in music, from childhood piano lessons with a local rock muso to international fame as a concert pianist. As she discovers passion and ambition, and confronts doubt and disappointment, she learns about much more than tone and technique.
Goldsworthy evokes the hopes and uncertainties of young adulthood, the fear and exhilaration of performing, and the complex bonds between teacher and student. An unforgettable cast of characters joins her, drawn with wit and affection: her parents; her fellow musicians, both friends and rivals; and her schoolmates, in all their teenage glory.
Above all there is her teacher, Mrs Sivan, enigmatic, charismatic and intimidating all at once.
The Queensland Music Festival commissioned Piano Lessons as a play in 2011. In 2017 the play enjoys it third remount in venues around Australia, including the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival, the Newcastle Civic Theatre, and Angel Place City Recital Hall in Sydney.
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St Martin's Press Macmillan
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- Germany - Verlag Urachhaus (publication pending)
Winner: Newcomer of the Year, 2010 Australian Book Industry Awards
Shortlisted: 2011 National Biography Award
Shortlisted: Best Non-Fiction, 2010 NSW Premier's Literary Awards
Shortlisted: Best Non-Fiction, 2010 Australian Book Industry Awards
Shortlisted: Colin Roderick Award
"I have never read a better depiction of a great mentor and of how true learning takes place. Every teacher of anything should read this book. Twice."
- Philip Levine, US Poet Laureate
“…multi-layered, rich with meditations on identity, creativity, ambition and achievement; deeply felt without a hint of sentimentality. This impressive debut will surely mark Anna Goldsworthy’s arrival as an Australian writer to be reckoned with.”
- The Age
"...one of the most affecting and beautifully composed memoirs of recent years."
- The Sydney Morning Herald
“Marvellous. Enlightenment and joy on every page.”
- Helen Garner
“a remarkable book”
- The Australian
“a wonderful story elegantly told”
- The Australian Literary Review
“Deeply felt and elegantly written—like a melody by Mozart: joyous and heartbreaking in a single exquisite line. Anna Goldsworthy has written a loving, generous homage, not only to music, but far more to the magical, inexhaustible arts of teaching and learning. She allows us into the intimate, demanding relationship between teacher and student, and shows how skill and insight pass invisibly from one to the other, becoming understanding, freedom, and finally wisdom. Goldsworthy conveys the process of development, from beginner to artist, with a light touch, beautifully capturing her schoolgirl’s doubts and dreams. But at the heart of the story is always Mrs. Sivan, her teacher, speaking broken English, giving herself uncompromisingly to the belief that music is a way of living, of breathing, of acceptance. In her passionate, poignant portrait of Mrs. Sivan, Goldsworthy demonstrates how fully she has learned those lessons. It is a book of great warmth, sensitivity, and love.
- Glenn Kurtz, author of Practicing: A Musician’s Return to Music
“Anna Goldsworthy has let us in on her arduous journey to become a concert pianist with flair and refreshing honesty. The other star in this book, her piano teacher Eleanora Sivan, is a woman who despite her fractured English (or perhaps because of it?) is somehow able to express the deepest truths about music and musicians. I found Piano Lessons hard to put down.”
- Arnold Steinhardt, author of Violin Dreams and first violinist of the Guarneri String Quartet
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