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“ Mao and I regret how the Revolution abused and humiliated a national treasure like Ma Sicong.” - Zhou En-lai, 1975

The King of Violins


The King of Violins is the heartbreaking story of China’s most celebrated violin prodigy, Ma Sicong, who composes his first concerto at the age of 12.

During his career, this gentle, dignified man composes 57 of the world’s best-known symphonies and concertos and performs in front of hundreds of sold-out audiences across the globe.

Chairman Mao Zedong declares Ma Sicong “a national treasure” and nicknames him The King of Violins. Soon, Chairman Mao’s brutal Cultural Revolution distorts the truth of Ma’s life and work. He is forced to wear a dunce cap, and is publically humiliated and physically abused by cadres of Red Guards as “a vile product of bourgeois thinking.”

Ma and his family make a breathtaking escape in the darkness to America. After Chairman Mao’s death in 1976, the real circumstances of Ma’s poignant, bittersweet life are buried in the pages of history by an embarrassed Chinese government. Eleven years later, Ma dies at the age of 76 in Philadelphia.

The King of Violins, written in cooperation with all of Ma’s remaining family members, and is the first politically balanced life story about this generous, conflicted musical genius.


“A perfectly balanced symphony that honors China’s national music treasure and makes you feel you are sitting on Ma’s shoulder as his complicated life unfolds.”
- US Review of Books

“A fabulous book about a remarkable man! You will leave feeling you have met Ma Sicong in person.”
- Independent Book Review

“The involving twists and turns make this far more than an engaging first-person biography. It’s a must-read that will stay with you.”
- International Review of Books

Reader Reviews