The Piano Student

(Author) (Translator)

Product Details

$16.95  $15.59
New Vessel Press
Publish Date
5.2 X 7.9 X 0.5 inches | 0.55 pounds
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About the Author

Lea Singer is a German cultural historian and a novelist who uses a pseudonym for her fictional works. Under her legal name of Eva Gesine Baur, she has authored biographies of Frédéric Chopin and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. She has also written novels inspired by the lives of pianist Paul Wittgenstein and painter Caspar David Friedrich.
Elisabeth Lauffer is the recipient of the 2014 Gutekunst Translation Prize. After graduating from Wesleyan University she lived in Berlin where she worked as a commercial translator and then obtained a master's in education from Harvard.


Based on correspondence between virtuoso pianist Vladimir Horowitz and a young Swiss student, Nico Kaufmann, Singer's astute, elegiac English-language debut reconstructs the pair's amorous liaison in the lead-up to WWII ... Singer effectively conveys Horowitz's genius ... This nostalgic tale of repressed desire is as affecting as Schumann's haunting tune.
--Publishers Weekly

Gripping in its newness and historical import ... The Piano Student contains a lovely air of mystery ... Members of music's royalty people the pages.
--Washington Independent Review of Books

Paints a startling picture of Horowitz as a complicated man torn between his desire to be with men and his duty to his wife, Arturo Toscanini's daughter. This is an engrossing, beautifully written novel that brings into focus an inimitable artist who ascended to great heights as a pianist despite his hidden life as a gay man.
--VAN Classical Music Magazine

The illicit love affair of world-famous piano virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz and the less successful pianist Nico Kaufmann is recreated vividly in Lea Singer's The Piano Student ... Singer has written a compelling story, interweaving history, music, and psychological intrigues that accompany purposely hidden romantic involvements.
--The Gay & Lesbian Review

German cultural historian Singer draws on unpublished letters she unearthed in Switzerland to reimagine the tumultuous love affair between phenomenal pianist Vladimir Horowitz and his young student Nico Kaufmann ... What emerges is a portrait of gay life and limitations in the mid-1900s, the era's painful political upheavals, and a great pianist on edge ... An intriguing look at passion, history, and culture, for more than classical music fans.
--Library Journal

With the complexity of a Russian piano concerto, Lea Singer has evoked the passionate love between the maestro Horowitz and the young man who became his student. She has richly imagined their forbidden relationship, which was marked by the same push-pull phrasing in the Chopin Nocturnes Horowitz often played, and that haunted them both for the rest of their lives.
--Chris Cander, author of The Weight of a Piano

This intriguing, quirky novel, based on unpublished letters of Horowitz to a Swiss student, explores his hidden European years between living in Russia and the United States, and his hidden homosexual life outside his marriage with Wanda Toscanini.
--Stephen Hough, concert pianist and author of Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More and The Final Retreat: A Novel

Reads like a dark detective novel of the sort Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt might have written ... This is a moving book, filled with tension and tragedy. We see Horowitz, warts and all ... a fascinating read.

Throughout its telling, Singer maintains an elegance and depth that will leave the reader pondering the nature of personal courage and how--or whether--life and maturity can ever bring into harmony art, ambition, and love.
--Historical Novels Review

The nov-el draws out many themes that res-onate in today's world on the nature of sex-u-al iden-ti-ty and art, espe-cial-ly the rela-tion-ship between pas-sion and art and suf-fer-ing and cre-ativ-i-ty ... Presents its themes with sen-si-tiv-i-ty and restraint ... The Piano Stu-dent illu-mi-nates the sac-ri-fices artists make for their art.
--Jewish Book Council

One of the greatest pianists of the last century, an illicit love affair with a young man, and a story using the genuine correspondence that passed between them--it makes for an utterly compelling read.
--Jeremy Nicholas, author of The Great Composers and Chopin: His Life and Music

Lea Singer's newly translated novel is historical fiction done right ... The book [has] a cinematic quality, like an old German movie ... There are also many beautiful passages about music.
--The Provincetown Independent

Carefully researched and explosively passionate, this story of forbidden love and unmet potential is not just for fans of Vladimir Horowitz or the piano, but for anyone who's ever felt the ineffable power of music.
--Aja Gabel, author of The Ensemble

Intensely satisfying ... A haunting and at times heartbreaking read.
--Never Imitate

A tender psychological depiction of an impossible love--and between the lines a good deal of veneration for the pianist Horowitz and for the persuasive power of music.
--Süddeutsche Zeitung

Lea Singer's novel combines narrative imagination and accurate research ... recounting vividly as well as exemplarily the multi-faceted history of a forbidden love between men and thereby captivating the reader.

A book that tells with empathic devotion of music and death ... the story of a search for freedom in the most adverse circumstances ... The book poses the biggest question of all about relationships, What is true and what is a lie?
--Neue Zürcher Zeitung