Maestro (//; Italian: [maˈestro]) (from the Italian maestro, meaning "master" or "teacher") is a title of extreme respect given to a master musician. The term is most commonly used in the context of Western classical music and opera. This is associated with the ubiquitous use of Italian vocabulary for classical music terms. The title of maestro may be bestowed upon composers, performers, impresarios, music directors, conductors and music teachers.
In the Italian opera world, the term is not only used for the conductor, but also for musicians who act as répétiteurs and assistant conductors during performances (maestro sostituto or maestro collaboratore). Even the prompter (maestro suggeritore) can be referred to by this title. (There is no agreement on how to address a woman conductor, as the feminine equivalent maestra denotes "schoolmistress" in Italian.)
Usage outside music
By extension, it is used in English to designate a master in an artistic field, usually someone with strong knowledge who instructs others in the field, though the term may sometimes be conferred through sheer respect for an artist's works. The word is sometimes used in fine arts such as painting and sculpture, though there "master", as in Old Master, is far more common. Maestro is used in the sport of fencing, for a fencing instructor, and may be used in other sports to convey respect for an individual's skill.
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- Lebrecht, Norman (1 January 2001) [First published 1991]. The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power (2nd revised ed.). Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-2088-4.
- Kennedy, Michael (2006), The Oxford Dictionary of Music, 985 pages, ISBN 0-19-861459-4
- Warrack, John; West, Ewan (15 October 1992). The Oxford Dictionary of Opera. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 0-19-869164-5.