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The Musician's Daughter

The Musician's Daughter

4.3 39
by Susanne Dunlap

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Amid the glitter and glamour of musical and court life in 18th century Vienna, fifteen-year-old Theresa Maria Shurman is trying to solve a brutal mystery. Who killed her father, an acclaimed violinist, and stole his valuable Amati violin? When Haydn himself offers her a position as his assistant, it gives Theresa access to life in the palace-and to a world of


Amid the glitter and glamour of musical and court life in 18th century Vienna, fifteen-year-old Theresa Maria Shurman is trying to solve a brutal mystery. Who killed her father, an acclaimed violinist, and stole his valuable Amati violin? When Haydn himself offers her a position as his assistant, it gives Theresa access to life in the palace-and to a world of deceit. Theresa uncovers blackmail and extortion even as she discovers courage and honor in unexpected places: from a Gypsy camp on the banks of the Danube, to the rarefied life of the imperial family. And she feels the stirrings of a first, tentative love for someone who is as deeply involved in the mystery as she is.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A mix of mystery, thriller and romance set in 18th-century Vienna, Dunlap's uneven debut YA novel begins as the body of Theresa Maria's murdered father is brought home. Though he had appeared to be simply a musician caring for his family and passing his love of music to his daughter, Theresa discovers that her father was a spy, investigating the cruelty of Hungarian lords who were persecuting the Gypsies, an intriguing set-up that is not deeply explored. Franz Josef Haydn, the real-life conductor of the orchestra where Theresa's father was a violinist, is losing his eyesight and needs Theresa, his goddaughter, to clerk for him. Like a number of other story points, this one lacks support: why would Haydn trust other musicians with the plot involving the Hungarian lords, but not trust them with the secret of his failing eyesight? While the heady setting and Theresa's determination are enjoyable, the story is a little too ambitious and gets beyond the writer's control. Ages 12- up. (Jan.)

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VOYA - Jane Chen
This book is a really interesting trip back in time to a young girl's life of music, mystery, and injustice. The plot is intricate and the characters are believable while the book still maintains a fairy-tale-like quality. Although the story deals with many serious topics such as racism, politics, and power struggles, the tone is light enough to follow with interest. I would recommend this book to girls who enjoy reading about other experiences and cultures. Reviewer: Jane Chen, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Cindy Faughnan
From the opening chapter when fifteen-year-old Theresa's violinist father is brought home dead, the intrigue does not let up in this mystery set in eighteenth-century Vienna. Theresa turns to her godfather, Franz Joseph Haydn, to find out what happened to her father and his violin and takes her father's place as Haydn's copyist, writing down the music he creates to earn enough to help with expenses for her family. Because of his poor eyesight, Haydn needs Theresa's help to keep his position as the Kapellmeister, the music director for the prince of Esterhazy. As Theresa spends more time at the castle, she becomes embroiled in the politics and discovers that there is a lot about her father she did not know. She tries to unravel what really happened, meets the Hungarian gypsies who live nearby, and learns that her evil uncle is trafficking in young boys when she has to save her younger brother from his grip. Dunlap's book is rich with historical information, including real people and credible details. It is interesting to see how music was physically written and to learn about the demands put on people such as Haydn to create and perform daily. Details of everyday life create a picture of the world these characters live in, including the primitive sewer system and the prejudice under which the gypsies lived. The story is filled with action, and the heroine is both strong-willed and smart. Add a first romance for Theresa and a brand new baby sister and the result is a multilayered believable world. Reviewer: Cindy Faughnan
VOYA - Ava Donaldson
Dunlap creates a compelling and well-written story with fresh, new ideas to keep the reader intrigued. Interesting and believable characters keep the reader involved and able to enjoy the far-from-familiar tale. Although the book could easily fall into the trap of being a typical mystery and it does follow a basic pattern, the reader never feels led along or deceived; it's simply a good narrative. Reviewer: Ava Donaldson, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up

After Theresa's father is murdered on Christmas Eve, his body is discovered in a Gypsy camp, his precious violin missing. Her mother is with child and not well, so it is up to Theresa to make funeral arrangements and to figure out how their family will survive without Papa's income. Theresa has had an unusual upbringing for a young woman in 18th-century Vienna: she has been taught to play the viola. Even so, it is unlikely that anyone would hire a 15-year-old girl, so she seeks the help of her father's friend and employer, the composer Franz Joseph Hayden. He reveals a secret to her: he is going blind and needs her assistance putting his compositions to paper. While working for him, the teen is also intent upon solving the mystery of her father's death, and she discovers that Hayden's blindness is not the only secret Papa had been keeping. Despite a slow start and an ending that wraps things up a bit too tidily, this book is a rip-roaring adventure with music, murder, and espionage. It's clearly well researched, and the level of detail in the narrative makes readers believe that this story might have actually happened. Theresa's first-person narrative reveals her to be a quick-thinking, courageous, and likable individual. Pair this book with Philip Pullman's "Sally Lockhart" series (Knopf) for some entertaining historical mysteries with plucky heroines.-Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO

Kirkus Reviews
A 15-year-old living in 18th-century Vienna finds herself entwined in political intrigue when she boldly investigates her father's puzzling murder. A violinist in composer Franz Joseph Haydn's orchestra at the court of Hungarian Prince Esterhazy, Theresa's father inspired her love of music. When his body is found under mysterious circumstances near a Gypsy camp along the Danube and his violin goes missing, Theresa is determined to uncover the truth. Her search leads her into the forbidden Gypsy camps, glittering ballrooms and dank sewers of Imperial Vienna. The spirited, impetuous Theresa tells her own story, allowing readers to experience the immediacy of rapidly unfolding events amidst the glamour and turmoil of Haydn's Vienna. As Theresa discovers her father's role in a controversial cause supporting Hungarian serfs, she encounters deception and danger as well as honor and loyalty. While Theresa's naive and headstrong pursuit of her father's murderer tests credibility, she's a gutsy, sympathetic heroine who remains true to her friends, in a fast-paced historical adventure that offers a hint of romance. (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.98(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.93(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Susanne Dunlap graduated from Smith College and later earned a PhD in music hiatory from Yale University. She has taught music history at the college level, and is the author of two historical novels for adults. This is her first novel for young readers.

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The Musician's Daughter 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Christmas Eve is supposed to be a happy time, but Theresa will remember it as the night her father was murdered and his violin stolen. A musician in her own right, Theresa is drawn into her father's world and is determined to discover the truth about his death. Her search uncovers secrets about her father and the musician's world; secrets that lead her into dangerous circles. She isn't sure who she can trust as her investigation brings her into the complex but glamorous court of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy. Dunlap weaves historical figures like Franz Joseph Haydn, Mozart, and others into this fictional tale with ease. Her prose sang me into eighteenth-century Vienna and into Theresa's life with a musical journey I'll never forget. THE MUSICIAN'S DAUGHTER strikes a chord in the reader's heart and holds it to the end.
Emeralsha More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this book. It first caught my eye, because I also play the violin. The details and thrilling experiences that the main character goes through, are amazing and intriguing. I recommend this book to people who love a good read, play an instrument, want to be at the edge of their seats, and like a little mystery and romance. Great book!! I also recommend the series that starts with "A Great and Terrible Beauty" by Libba Bray.
Enchanted_Follower More than 1 year ago
If history is one of your passions, then this book is a must-read. The novel portrays the racial tension that constantly plagued the country of Austria and Hungary. The heroine of the story at first, falls into the stereotypical racism against her later-to-be gypsy friends, being scared and scorning them. Yet as her mission gradually exposes her to the world, she realizes that different skin tones do not mean anything. She learns that it is the color of one's heart that differentiates a "good" person from a "bad" person. Like all of us, maturing children, the heroine goes through stages in the novel that forces her to open her eyes and sort out her priorities. One particular aspect of the novel that I truly enjoyed reading was the unbreakable bond of family. The heroine epitomizes the ideal sister who would do anything for her mother and brother; a trait that is diminishing in today's society. The only factor I didn't like was the fact that at times, the heroine degraded herself, saving that she couldn't do anything in the predicament. Utter cow dung, if you ask me. Even if the sky falls down, there is always a way out, one just has to keep his or her eyes open for it. Also, I would have loved it if Dunlap allowed more romance among her characters but again, that's just me. I highly recommend giving this book I try.
Book_Girl14 More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book! I loved it! It had a great plot and kept you at the end of your seat! I didn't want it to end! I will read this many more times!
SusanODoherty More than 1 year ago
In The Musician's Daughter, Susanne Dunlap executes several difficult feats with grace and sophistication. She tells an intricate, thrilling story in language young readers can understand and follow; she portrays a strong, independent young woman who does not seem at all anachronistic in this time period; and she confronts issues of gender and social class without sounding preachy. This book is a great read, and the ending made me cry.

My fourteen-year-old son, who doesn't usually like "girl stuff," was entranced, as well.
StephanieCowell More than 1 year ago
Thrilling adventure is combined with the world of classical music in the time of Mozart and Haydn in this fast-paced novel of a girl in eighteenth-century Vienna in search of her father¿s murderer. She has only several days to find a secret inside a missing violin which holds the fate of a tribe of gypsies, kidnapped children, and the young man she likes. Ranging from palatial balls to a dramatic escape in the middle of the night through a sewer, The Musician¿s Daughter is the story of a feisty young heroine who loves music and will risk her life to find justice and protect those she loves.

Stephanie Cowell (author of the novel "Marrying Mozart")
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It sounds good and dont be hating youre just not this kinda soft hearted person to understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a really good book i recommend it to musicians like myself and mystery lovers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just bough this book and im in love with it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall my favorite book! The history is true and unbeliveable writen!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written! Enjoyed ireadong it. Great mixes of everythxing a must read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a good read if you like mystery and music tied in one. I personally thought that this book was incredibly detailed. This has been so far my favorite book of all time.
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