Maestro (//; from the Italian maestro [maˈestro; maˈɛstro], meaning "master" or "teacher") is an honorific title of respect (plural: maestri, feminine: maestra). The term is most commonly used in the context of Western classical music and opera, in line with the ubiquitous use of Italian musical terms.
In the world of Italian opera, the title is also used to designate a number of positions within the orchestra and company that have specific duties during rehearsal and performance. These include:
- Maestro sostituto or maestro collaboratore: musicians who act as répétiteurs and assistant conductors during performances.
- Maestro concertatore, the keyboard continuo player, who prepares singers and leads rehearsals.
- Maestro direttore: the leader of the first violins of the orchestra (see concertmaster), who may also have administrative duties such as hiring and paying musicians
- Maestro suggeritore: the prompter
Usage outside music
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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, although "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.
- 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.