Cellist Mischa Maisky (1948) was born in Riga, and it was here that he began studying the cello at the Emīls Dārziņš Music School. At the Moscow Conservatory, he studied with Mstislav Rostropovich and Gregor Piatigorsky. Rostropovich once said the following wonderful parting words of his student: “… one of the most outstanding talents of the younger generation of cellists. His playing combines poetry and exquisite delicacy with great temperament and brilliant technique.”
A year ago, he celebrated his 70th birthday, and Maisky himself says: “My advice is to always keep the fire going, to keep the passion. Playing music should never become a routine, a job. Whatever you do in life, doing it with love makes the difference in the end.”
After emigrating to Israel in 1973, Maisky’s career has lead him to London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, New York, Tokyo and countless other significant centres of musical life.
He considers himself a citizen of the world: “I’m playing an Italian cello, with French and German bows, Austrian and German strings, my daughter was born in France, my oldest son in Belgium, the middle one in Italy and the youngest one in Switzerland, I’m driving a Japanese car, wear a Swiss watch, an Indian necklace and I feel at home everywhere where people appreciate and enjoy classical music.”
Maisky – a world-class musician – has performed at all the major international festivals, and has collaborated with such world-class conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Charles Dutoit, Carlo Maria Giulini, Valery Gergiev, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, James Levine, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Daniel Barenboim and others. In chamber music programmes he has partnered with Martha Argerich, Evgeny Kissin, Itzhak Perlman, Radu Lupu, Yuri Bashmet, Joshua Bell, Janine Jansen, Gidon Kremer, Julian Rachlin, Vadim Repin and many others.
As a Deutsche Grammophon artist, he has recorded more than 35 albums over the last 30 years with the world’s leading orchestras – the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris and many others. These recordings have gained a wide range of awards – from an ECHO Klassik to a Diapason d’Or and Grammy nominations. His latest album Adagietto, released in August 2018, is very personal, because it was recorded with his daughter, pianist Lily Maisky, and it includes concert recordings in which he performs with Martha Argerich, Janine Jansen, Julian Rachlin and his own son Sascha, a violinist. This album also fulfilled one of Mischa’s dreams: the Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 was recorded using a multitrack recording technique, with him recording all of the tracks except for the harp part.
Maisky enjoys ambitious, specialised projects – in 2000, he travelled the world performing solely Johann Sebastian Bach’s music in more than 100 concerts. He has recorded all of Bach’s Cello Suites three times, and has also released a video.
Over the course of his ambitious career, has has amassed a wealth of experience and many useful observations, including this: “Music is very subjective, therefore it is open to many different interpretations. The number of possibilities is infinite, and their depth is infinite. We can never say from an interpretation that it is ‘the’ ultimate perfect one. Perfection in music is an illusion. I always compare it to trying to reach the horizon: the closer you get, the more it goes, always. It does not mean that one should not try to get closer to it, but with the realization that you are never going to touch it, there are no frustrations.”