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Sicong Ma (1912 - 1987)

The Chinese composer and violinist Ma Sicong (Ma Sitson) was born in Haifeng in the province of Guangdong (Canton) in 1912 and was among the relatively few Chinese musicians of his generation to study abroad. The son of a Guomindang official, he studied the violin at the Nancy Conservatoire, an affiliate of the Conservatoire de Paris in France. He returned to China in 1929, but was able to go back to Paris the following year for composition lessons. In China he was invited by the nationalist government of Chiang Kaishek to establish a symphony orchestra in Chongqing, and in the following years held various teaching and administrative positions in regional conservatories and institutions. At the time of the Communist victory in 1949 he was in Hong Kong, but was invited by the new Communist government, in common with other Chinese intellectuals living abroad, to return to China. There he was appointed director of the Central Conservatory, which was finally moved to Beijing. He held various official positions and enjoyed a career also as a composer and as a performer. All this came to an end with the so-called Cultural Revolution, with its unbridled attack on Western culture. During these days he underwent considerable suffering, as many other Chinese intellectuals did, and in 1967 managed to escape, settling in America, where his younger brother had earlier established himself as a violinist. There the story of his travails was published in Life, a revelation of persecution about which many others have preferred to remain reticent. In

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