Piano Lessons

A Memoir

Anna Goldsworthy

St. Martin's Press

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Anna Goldsworthy was nine years old when she met Eleanora Sivan, the charismatic Russian émigré and world-class pianist who became her piano teacher. Piano Lessons is the story of what Mrs. Sivan brought to Anna’s lessons: a love of music, a respect for life, a generous spirit, and the courage to embrace a musical life.
 
Beautifully written and strikingly honest, Piano Lessons takes the reader on a journey into the heart and meaning of music. Mrs. Sivan’s teachings and distinctive syntax guide Anna as she discovers passion and ambition, confronts doubt and disappointment, and learns about much more than tone and technique:
 
“We are not teaching piano playing. We are teaching philosophy and life and music digested.”
“What is intuition? Knowledge that has come inside.”
“My darling, we must sit and work.”
 
Piano Lessons reminds us all how an extraordinary teacher can change a life completely. A work that will appeal to all music lovers and have special resonance with anyone who has ever taken a music lesson, Piano Lessons will touch the heart of anyone who has ever loved a teacher.

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Book Excerpts

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Piano Lessons Chapter 1. Bach

It was my grandfather who found her. He pronounced her name with an extravagant French accent that spoke of her mystery, her glamour.

Mrs Siv-an.

She had recently arrived in Adelaide with her husband and teenage son and was teaching piano at a western-suburbs high school. My grandfather was a regional director of the Education Department, and he had chanced upon one of her lessons during a routine inspection.

‘He was true gentleman, of course, very charming,’ she told me later, ‘but with a natural authority.

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Reviews

Praise for Piano Lessons

“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, Poet Laureate of the United States, for TheMillions.com

"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

“A remarkably clear-sighted account of how music changes everything and nothing. Mrs. Sivan’s piano lessons are invaluable and unsentimental lessons in life.”--Lavinia Greenlaw, author of The Importance of Music to Girls

“The wise words connect with anyone who can remember the pangs of adolescence, and the joy of being taken under the wing of a generous mentor.”

--John Terauds, The Toronto Star

 


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About the Author

Anna Goldsworthy

ANNA GOLDSWORTHY is a professional and award-winning musician who travels and performs regularly and internationally as a soloist and chamber musician. Her debut solo CD, Come With Us, was recently released by ABC Classics. Her writing has appeared in The Monthly and Best Australian Essays, among others.

Anna Goldsworthy

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Available Formats and Book Details

Piano Lessons
A Memoir
Anna Goldsworthy

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
October 2010
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429949293
ISBN10: 1429949295
256 pages
$11.99

Hardcover

Hardcover
St. Martin's Press
October 2010
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780312646288
ISBN10: 0312646283
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 256 pages
$24.99
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