Thirty years ago it looked as if cellist Mischa Maisky was set to become one of the Soviet Union's prize musicians. Born in 1948 in Riga, the capital of the then Soviet satellite-state of Latvia, Maisky was a grade-A student at the Riga Conservatory at the age of 17. In 1965 he moved to Leningrad, where more accolades awaited the young cellist. \nWinning the Soviet Union's national cello competition and enjoying a highly acclaimed debut with the Leningrad Philharmonic that same year, Maisky was slowly, but surely gaining a reputation as one of the nation's most talented young cellists. Misfortune, however, was lurking just around the corner. \nMoving to Moscow in the late 1960s in order to study at the Moscow Conservatory under the guidance of renowned cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich, Maisky's life took to a drastic turn for the worse after his sister left the Soviet Union for Israel. \nHe was targeted as a troublemaker and harassed by the state security police. Security forces finally arrested Maisky in 1970 for buying a tape recorder on the black market. He was sentenced to 18 months in a labor camp and denied the chance to graduate from the prestigious institute. \n"Things changed rather drastically and for the last three years of `my first life,' as I like to call it, I didn't even see my cello, let alone play it," recalls Maisky. Two years in a Soviet labor camp didn't dampen Maisky's passion for the cello, however. \nAfter completing his sentence in mid-1972, he attempted to re-enter the institute and finish the final year he missed due his incarceration. \nOf a total of 65 examinations needed to graduate from the Moscow Conservatory, Maisky had completed 63. The two remaining tests were cello playing and a very euphonious sounding examination entitled "scientific communism." \n"I contacted them after release in `72, but it was impossible for me to return to my studies in Russia," said Maisky. "I don't regret the things that happened to me because even though I never received a diploma from Moscow Conservatory I think I had a much more complete life education." \nMaisky's "second life" began at the end of 1972. Now living in Israel, his sister petitioned Teddy Kollek, the mayor of Jerusalem at the time, to pressure Soviet authorities to allow Maisky to join the family in the Jewish state. \nIn order to leave the USSR, Maisky needed a sponsor, who was expected to compensate the state for his education. The amount of cash paid for Maisky's release was, as he puts it, "substantial." It was forthcoming, however, and by 1973 the young cellist was once again performing in front of audiences. \nMaking his US debut in 1973 at the Carneige Hall with the Pittsburgh Philharmonic under the baton of conductor William Steinberg, Maisky was chosen by Russia's other great cellist, Gregor Piatigorsky -- who was living in Los Angeles -- to be his student. This made Maisky the only cellist to study under both Rostropovich and Piatigorsky. \nThroughout the 1970s and 1980s, Maisky continued to win both competitions and acclaim around the world. Performing to packed houses in Europe the US and Asia, and especially Japan where the artist still enjoys a strong following today, Maisky soon became one of the worlds' most in-demand cellists. \nIn 1995, Maisky returned to Russia for the first time since his departure in 1972. While initially feeling apprehensive about returning to the land where he was once incarcerated, his return proved favorable for both the cellist and post-Soviet audiences. \n"I must confess it was not just like going anywhere else. It was different. I never felt any particular sentiments or nostalgia, God forbid, but I still remember growing up there," explains the cellist. "I had mixed feelings about the people but the audiences were very appreciative and I enjoyed playing there." \nThere he not only performed with the Russian National Orchestra but was also asked by the prestigious classical label, Deutsche Grammophon, to record a series of works by renowned Russian composers Sergei Prokofiev and Nikolai Miaskovsky. Maisky has recorded over 35 solo and collaborative albums for the Deutsche label to date, and is planning many more. \n"I don't think I can yet point to one record as my favorite. I like to think that my next one will be, but I'm still growing and will continue to release albums until I have a favorite one," continues Maisky. "Which could take sometime." \nWhile now based in Belgium, Maisky continues to travel extensively and perform both solo and with national orchestras. While orchestral performances are now part-and-parcel of his career, Maisky finds it rather restricting and prefers to perform with a more intimate number of performers. \n"I don't really get on with orchestras. I find playing with a large group restricts me and doesn't allow me to create the sound I want," concludes Maisky. \nFor his upcoming shows in Kaohsiung and Taipei, local audiences will be treated to a, thankfully, unrestricted performance by Maisky. Joined on stage by Argentinean pianist Sergio Tiempo, the duo will be performing Mendelssohn's Sonata No.2 in D major, Shostakovich's Sonata in D minor and Chopin's Sonata in G minor.
PHOTO COURTESY OF PARIS INTERNATIONAL
What: Mischa Maisky's Romance. When & Where: Tonight at Kaohsiung's Chih-Teh Hall (高雄市文化中心至德堂) and tomorrow at Taipei's National Concert Hall (台北國家音樂廳). Tickets: Tickets for the Kaohsiung performance run from NT$500 to NT$2,000 and for the Taipei performance from NT$900 to NT$2,500. Tickets for both shows are available at the door.
The Taiwan of yesteryear was dominated in whole or in part by the Dutch, Spanish, Qing Empire and Japanese. But is the Taiwanese name for a popular edible fish derived from the Portuguese language? Cheng Wei-chung (鄭維中), an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, says yes. The fish in question is the narrow-barred Spanish mackerel, which was listed in early 18th century Qing local gazetteers as Taiwanese specialities alongside milk fish and mullet, according to Cheng’s paper, “Mullet, narrow-barred Spanish mackerel and milkfish: Multiple contextual developments of three certified seafood specilaities in Taiwan, from the
Aug. 10 to Aug. 16 They called him the “No Problem Doctor” (沒關係醫生) because that’s what he always told his patients when they couldn’t pay up. Operating the only clinic in Changhua County’s Pusin Township (埔心) during the 1950s, Hsu Tsai-chih (許再枝) knew that life was difficult in his remote hometown. “They barely had enough to survive, so it was pointless to chase after them for the money,” an 81-year-old Hsu told the United Daily News in 2002. “I just went with the flow, some offered to pay me back years later but I had already forgotten
I didn’t expect to spend more than three minutes out of my car, yet the sun was so brutal I put on my hat before approaching the seawall. Beimen (北門) is the flattest and most sun-baked part of Tainan. It lacks trees and people. In wintertime, the weather is often delightful. It wasn’t yet mid-morning in the hot season, however, and I felt like a leaf shriveling in the desert. Atop the seawall but facing inland, I could see dozens of the rectangular ponds which account for a significant percentage of Beimen’s “land” area. Some, no doubt, were dug to produce
In the regular drumbeat of arrests of alleged Chinese spies, one case last month stood out. It did not involve the US or another rival of China, but Russia, whose security services accused a prominent arctic scientist of selling classified data on technologies for detecting submarines. Meanwhile a court in Kazakhstan in October convicted the Central Asia nation’s preeminent China specialist of espionage, a move widely interpreted at the time as a warning against increased meddling by the superpower next door. Both men maintain their innocence and if China is spying on Russia, Moscow is surely doing the same. Even so, the fact