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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Following a humiliating experience as a young symphony conductor in America, Cooper Barrow spent years accepting jobs beneath his capabilities but unlikely to cause further shame. Eight years later, he reenters the demanding world of orchestral conducting when he signs on as a student of the ruthless German master Karlheinz Ziegler.
In Germany, Barrow begins to navigate his own insecurities, the political and social intricacies resulting from the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, and the often brutal whims of Ziegler himself. But what really fascinates Barrow is Petra Vogel, a daring oboist with an aggressive sexuality who holds him spellbound. However, the damaged Petra comes by her adventurous spirit via a haunted past, and complicated relationships with Ziegler and the irascible concertmaster, Tano Popescu.
Like Petra, Ziegler has secrets of his own to protect, but his defense is of a more mercenary sort. Recognizing that his student's enormous talent is checked by a lack of confidence, Ziegler pummels this weakness in order to give Barrow's musical genius room to grow. Weaving an intricate psychological web of passion and desire, he forces Barrow to abandon the relative safety of his diffidence and helps him realize his dreams and the true measure of his talent. Music lovers, take note: Ford's first novel is pitch perfect, with a conclusion worthy of a Brahms symphony. (Fall 2003 Selection)