The Maestro

by Tim Wynne-Jones

read aloud grade 6, readability grade 7

After many years of abuse 14 year old Burl has finally escaped his brutal father. With nothing but his inner compass to direct him, Burl stumbles upon a famous musician in his hidden cabin who is trying to escape the limelight that has been suffocating him. This “Maestro” (whose character is based on the legendary, eccentric pianist Glenn Gould) gives Burl shelter at his retreat by the lake, but remains an enigma to him.

This is only the beginning of a psychologically adventurous story of growth and experience. Set in the wilderness of northern Ontario, this tale examines the universal themes of inner struggle, isolation, perseverance, and physical endurance. The Maestro is powerful and excellently written- winning Tim Wynne-Jones the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature.

During the short time that Burl knew The Maestro, he was introduced to many aspects of music, especially the powerful stories that inspire some musicians.

Listen to some classical music performed and composed by Glenn Gould. While listening draw a picture of what you think the story behind the music is and/or write the story out after you listen to the music.

A good recording is Bach’s Goldberg Variations, recorded in 1955. This piece is lively and presents a wide resource for Glenn Gould’s musical style. A good recording of something that Gould composed is String Quartet, Op. 1, performed by Bruno Monsaingeon, Gilles Apap, Gerard Causse, and Alain Meunier.

Visit the impressive Glenn Gould Archive at the Library and Archives Canada website:

Here you can listen to several of Gould’s performances (some that were broadcasted through radio), view his archival papers (compositions, letters, concert posters…), and examine biographical chronologies. Additionally there are lists of writings about Gould, works of art and poetry inspired by him, and links to other related internet sites.

Research more about the “story ” behind Glenn Gloud. An excellent photobiography is, Glenn Gould: Some Portraits of the Artist as a Young Man by Jock Carroll, which presents Gould in a personal light.

Besides being an incredibly gifted musician, Glenn Gould was quite an eccentric. His personality would appeal to any age group.