Fiction Robert Ford The Student Conductor

ISBN 13: 9780399150371

The Student Conductor

3.63 avg rating
( 191 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780399150371: The Student Conductor

In this daring first novel of political, sexual, and artistic awakening, a young symphony conductor travels to Germany in the autumn of 1989, where he falls in love with a recent East German defector, and has a brutal encounter with the prewar conductor who becomes his great life teacher.

Cooper Barrow has returned to the competitive fray of the orchestral world after eight years of exile-bringing his prodigious talent and insecurity into Frankfurt and Berlin just at the moment that the Berlin Wall falls. Barrow is to study under the cruel hand of a capricious maestro, Karlheinz Ziegler-a man who carries boundless shame from his days in a Nazi concentration camp, and who will force Barrow to define himself within a morally ambiguous world.

But when Barrow encounters the beautiful and boldly sexual Petra Vogel, an oboist with poisonous secrets, he sets in motion a complex psychological dance of guilt, music, and love.

With remarkable intensity and physicality, Robert Ford delivers a pitch-perfect debut, brimming with intrigue and revelation, where passion flowers into desire on every page.

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About the Author:

Robert Ford earned a Master of Music degree from Yale and an MFA in writing from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. An award-winning playwright, he has also been awarded a James Michener Fellowship, a James Fellowship from the Heekin Group Foundation for The Student Conductor, and has published fiction in American Short Fiction.

From Booklist:

*Starred Review* Eight years after walking off the podium during a concert, Cooper Barrow, once a promising orchestral conductor, is attempting to revive his career by studying with German master teacher Karlheinz Ziegler. Everything in this remarkably assured first novel is charged with emotional energy, beginning with the setting--Germany in the days immediately following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Barrow, struggling to put his past demons behind him, wants only to reimmerse himself in learning to conduct, but Ziegler sees instantly that his pupil tends to fall apart "at the point where intelligence and emotion meet." Barrow hits that point not only in his work with the tormented, enigmatic Ziegler but also in his relationship with oboist Petra Vogel, a woman whose own demons stretch back across the now-collapsed wall to East Berlin. In a novel that echoes both Sophie's Choice and Israeli writer Nathan Shaham's superb Rosendorf Quartet (1991), Ford places his three principal characters "in a reborn city, in a reborn country" and asks them to somehow escape the secrets that lock them to the past. The means to that escape--or, possibly, the force that holds them back--is music, and Ford writes about the emotional essence of music with remarkable eloquence. This is finally a novel about power--the power of a great conductor driving a well-trained orchestra, the power of the past to enslave us, the power of the future to free us, and the power of the individual to love and to forgive. There is hardly a wrong note, from the moment Ford lifts his baton to the final refrain. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Robert Ford
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