The Secret Piano: From Mao's Labor Camps to Bach's Goldberg Variations

The Secret Piano: From Mao's Labor Camps to Bach's Goldberg Variations


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Zhu Xiao-Mei was born to middle-class parents in post-war China, and her musical proficiency became clear at an early age. Taught to play the piano by her mother, she developed quickly into a prodigy, immersing herself in the work of classical masters like Bach and Brahms. She was just ten years old when she began a rigorous course of study at the Beijing Conservatory, laying the groundwork for what was sure to be an extraordinary career. But in 1966, when Xiao-Mei was seventeen, the Cultural Revolution began, and life as she knew it changed forever. One by one, her family members were scattered, sentenced to prison or labor camps. By 1969, the art schools had closed, and Xiao-Mei was on her way to a work camp in Mongolia, where she would spend the next five years. Life in the camp was nearly unbearable, thanks to horrific living conditions and intensive brainwashing campaigns. Yet through it all Xiao-Mei clung to her passion for music and her sense of humor. And when the Revolution ended, it was the piano that helped her to heal. Heartbreaking and heartwarming, The Secret Piano is the incredible true story of one woman’s survival in the face of unbelievable odds—and in pursuit of a powerful dream.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611090772
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Publication date: 03/06/2012
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 629,550
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Aria xi

Part 1 China

1 The Solemn Hour 3

2 Mother's Library 14

3 First Teacher 30

4 Downfall 47

5 From Mozart to Mao 55

6 This Piano Was Acquired by Exploiting the People 66

7 A Bonfire of Bach 78

8 A Revolutionary 85

9 Departures 96

10 Camp 4619 103

11 A Piglet and Five Kittens 113

12 A Friend Arrives 126

13 The "Villa Medici" 136

14 From Mao to Mozart 150

15 A Seagull in Hong Kong 165

Part 2 The West

16 The Land of Freedom 172

17 A Western Master 187

18 With Oliver 198

19 An Act of Love 208

20 The Power of Emptiness 219

21 Dreaming of Paris 227

22 Starting Over 233

23 The Goldberg Variations 243

24 A Haven 253

25 The Tree of Mama Zheng 263

26 Life Starts at Forty 272

27 A Wounded Life 282

28 Music, Water, and Life 288

29 Wisdom and Non-Being 295

30 Return 301

Aria 310

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