Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell

Peter Goldsworthy, Maestro (1989)

Peter Goldsworthy’s novel, Maestro (1989), is a coming-of-age story that centres on the fictional character Paul Crabbe who achieves intellectual, emotional and sexual maturity between the ages of 15 and 25.  Told as a memoir, as the mature Paul reflects upon the process by which he achieved maturity between 1967 and 1977, the novel features a celebration of a mutually beneficial mentor−student relationship involving Paul and his piano teacher, the maestro Eduard Keller, who is an Austrian Holocaust survivor.  While exploring the themes of maturation and the mentor−student relationship, Goldsworthy can share with his audience an aesthetic sensibility about what constitutes a great musical performance and performer, where playing with feeling trumps technical skill, as well as share a perspective on the appreciation of women that dismisses mere beauty as deceptive and shallow in preference for what the novel depicts as women of substance. 

In addition, Maestro is a multicultural novel that recognises and appreciates ethnic and cultural diversity and celebrates the multi-ethnic post-war immigration programme for bringing people to Australia who brought with them the great cultures of old Europe to enrich a new or young Australian nation, just as old Kellar enriched young Paul’s life.  The novel also reflects a trend in Australian literature towards incorporating the migrant experience into the Australian experience, thereby linking Australia to some of the momentous events of world history, like the Holocaust. 

In this manner, the novel can encourage Australian readers to appreciate the tragedy of the Holocaust as well as to gain a greater appreciation of other aspects of European history, like the romantic movement in art, literature and music.  This includes the work and ideas of the composer Richard Wagner, which had a profound influence on the politician Adolf Hitler.  The novel also invites its readers to gain a greater understanding of piano playing, practice and tuition. 

Student resources by Dr Mark Lopez

© Mark Lopez 2021 All RIGHTS RESERVED

The purpose of the concise notes of Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell is to provide much needed help to students seeking to unlock the meaning of the texts with which they have to deal.  (More elaborate notes are provided in lessons as part of my private tutoring business.) 

Subject: Maestro meaning, Maestro themes, Maestro analysis, Maestro notes