Oral Presentation Assessment Task

Written Assessment Task

Maestro AT Revision Slides (including quotes)

Maestro Vocabulary

About the Holocaust

Maestro Music

Maestro Images

Maestro Study Guide

Maestro Practise & Example Exam

Exam Revision

Have a go at writing brief responses to the following questions. If you struggle to answer some, use them as 'focus questions' as your re-read the book.

  • How do they start out?
  • How do they change?
  • What are they like at the end?
  • What can we learn from them/their experiences?
  • What are their values?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What are their flaws?
  • How do they see themselves?
  • How do others see them?

  • How do the characters relate to each other?
  • How do the characters influence each other?
  • What is the significance of the relationships to the stories?
  • What do the characters learn from their relationships?

Growing up
  • What lessons are learnt?
  • Which rites of passage are experienced?
  • Is there tension between the younger and older Paul?
  • Where does adolescents end and adulthood begin?
  • How does your youth effect your adulthood?
  • How do the characters perceptions and ideas change as they grow up?

Places and Settings
  • Where are the places in the book?
  • What are they like?
  • What were they like when the book was set?
  • What do they represent/what is their significance to the story?


  • Darwin is remote and traditionally a non-cultural society
  • Late 19th Century Vienna was the centre of European cultural life
  • Most talent at that time came from Vienna, and of those most were Jewish.
  • With the arrival of Hitler, and the Holocaust, many of Vienna’s talented people lost their jobs and were sent off to concentration camps

Maestro is predominantly set in Darwin. Paul also travels to Adelaide and Vienna. These three settings are contrasted with each other in order to create meaning and to connect with important themes in the text. Darwin is a town of exiles. A steamy, lush town reflects Paul’s blooming sexuality. Adelaide is more sedate and conservative, and represents the more mundane side of Paul’s musical talent. Vienna is connected with European art and culture, and is also Keller’s birthplace. When Paul travels to Vienna he is on his own journey as a musician and on a quest to find out more about Keller, which suggests that the two quests are intertwined. From Keller’s point of view, Vienna’s surface of art and culture is undermined by its sinister history of Nazism and the persecution of the Jews.
Darwin is presented as a city of immigrants and the novel contains characters from many backgrounds, including Europeans, Chinese and Indigenous Australians. Mr Crabbe first regards Darwin with suspicion as ‘A city of booze, blow, and blasphemy’ (p.9). Paul’s initial reaction is much more positive: ‘I loved the town of booze and blow at first sight’ (p.9). Later, Mr Crabbe learns to enjoy the city’s tropical climate as he creates a wonderful garden. In all this initial imagery of Darwin, Goldsworthy emphasises its lushness. This connects with Paul’s burgeoning sexuality as he grows up and falls for Megan, then Rosie.
As a European exile, Keller is distinctly uncomfortable in the heat, evident in his florid, ‘sun-coarsened skin’ (p.3). Even though he has been there for much longer than Paul he looks out of place, as his old-fashioned white linen suit indicates. In this sense Darwin is emblematic of his exile. Indeed, the narrator states that Darwin is a place for fugitives: ‘A town populated by men who had run as far as they could flee’ (p.17). Keller seems far from home, both literally and metaphorically. He is on the run from the grief and guilt he feels after the events in Austria. When Cyclone Tracy hits Darwin in 1974 the image of Keller surviving by sheltering under his grand piano is symbolic of his powers of survival, as well as another instance of suffering in his long life (p.128). Music has saved him and kept him going when he could so easily have wished to die.
By comparison, Adelaide is presented as a metropolis. Paul associates the city with enjoyable holiday activities such as ‘The Zoo’, ‘the Beach’ and ‘The Show’ (p.53). The Crabbes lived here prior to Darwin and their feelings are often nostalgic. Paul’s parents relive ‘past Gilbert and Sullivan triumphs’ in the Christmas holidays in the section ‘Intermezzo’ (p.53). As Paul grows more attached to Darwin the fondness for Adelaide is replaced by an image of it as drearily suburban: ‘Now I felt a Territorian’s contempt for Adelaide and its neat rows of suburbs’ (p.100). Adelaide is also associated with Paul’s maternal grandparents with whom he stays during the piano and band competitions. It is a city with none of the youth and vitality of Darwin. When Paul chooses to go to Adelaide to study law and music it is seen as fulfilling his parents’ wishes in many respects, based on their loss of hope of his ever having a career as a performer. Adelaide is presented as a rather safe and uninspired choice, suggesting the future blandness of his musical career.