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Mischa Maisky (b1948)

Music is a strong tradition in Mischa Maisky’s family. His elder brother and his sister play the violin and piano respectively; his own daughter Lilly (b.1987) is a concert pianist, and his son Sascha is embarking upon a career as a violinist. Maisky began cello lessons aged eight, forming a family trio with his brother and sister. He gained a place first at the Children’s Music School in Riga, then the Riga Conservatory and at seventeen travelled to Leningrad to continue his studies there. He was later invited by Rostropovich to study with him in Moscow.

Following imprisonment in a Gorky labour camp for purchasing a black-market tape recorder, Maisky was permitted to emigrate to Israel after his military service with the proviso that he reimburse the Soviet government for the cost of his education. In 1972 the Mayor of Jerusalem managed to obtain money on his behalf for him to go to the USA where he was engaged by Daniel Barenboim and Zubin Mehta for a tour with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. After a concert at Carnegie Hall with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under William Steinberg, Maisky was approached backstage by a gentleman in a wheelchair who was so impressed by his playing that, remarkably, he gave him a Montagnana cello! In the US Maisky took lessons from Piatigorsky, becoming his final student and giving Maisky the distinction of being the only cellist known to have had both Piatigorsky and Rostropovich as teachers.




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