When Australian concert pianist Anna Goldsworthy published a memoir about her journey from childhood lessons to an international performing career, she had no idea it would be so warmly and enthusiastically received, capturing the imaginations of pianophiles, amateur players and non-musicians alike. Since its publication in 2009 the book has enjoyed many lives: a companion recital disc, concert tours, talk of a film and now, for the Queensland Music Festival, a stage adaptation starring Anna as herself.

A central figure in both the memoir and its theatrical incarnation is Anna’s early mentor, Russian pianist Eleonora Sivan. People tend to remember – often vividly – their first piano teachers as youngsters, whether or not they persevere with the instrument into adulthood. The pages that follow include Anna’s discussion of the stage adaptation of her story, recollections of her teacher, and musings from critically acclaimed pianists in Australia and abroad who have written to  Limelight about their first life-changing lessons.

Interview: Anna Goldsworthy

How did the stage adaptation of  Piano Lessons come about?

I was contacted by Deborah Conway from the Queensland Music Festival about eighteen months ago, shortly after the book came out. She said she’d read it...