Sunday, April 15th, 2012

The Secret Piano

The Secret Piano: From Mao's Labor Camps to Bach's Goldberg VariationsMy mother’s a pianist, and right now my mind’s still in China, so this book caught my eye: The Secret Piano: From Mao’s Labor Camps to Bach’s Goldberg Variations, by Zhu Xiao-Mei.

I’ve ordered the The Secret Piano to read on my Kindle. It’s just $.99. I can’t tell if that’s the regular price or a special for today.

Zhu Xiao-Mei 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. . . . 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. (from Amazon product review)

Bach: Goldberg Variations



She lives in Paris now and has recorded The Goldberg Variations and much more.


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4 Responses to “The Secret Piano”

  1. Hi Noel,
    Would this be an appropriate read for my 15 year old daughter who is a classical pianist? I’m most concerned about how graphic it gets–war isn’t pretty! Thanks for your opinion :)

    • Connie,

      I’m reading the book right now, so I can’t comment yet on the whole book.

      In general with a book I’m not sure of for a young person, I’d probably take at least a quick skim through it to get an idea of whether there’s obvious unsuitable material.

      So far, the main thing is the Communist ideology and how the author as a young person was processing and internalizing the message. If you both were reading the book, or if your daughter is likely to ask questions or talk about what you’re reading, that kind of philosophy and how it plays out could be good fodder for valuable conversations. Some insight into a life that’s very different from our own, can make it more clear to us what we really believe and how we’re different because of what we believe.

      If you/and or your daughter read the book, I’d be interested to hear what you think. Since the comments for this post will be buried under subsequent posts, let me know through the contact link at the top of the website homepage.

      Thanks for asking!

  2. Beautiful Interpretation, Glory to God, really an excellent performance with great talent, could not be performed with greater passion.

  3. Exhilarating, lovely and full.
    Can I say it again? “God moves in a mysterious way.”

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