“Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese” is a tale of Western classical music in China that starts in 1601, when the renowned Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci presented a clavichord to the Wan Li Emperor, and continues right up to the present day. Because classical music has long been intertwined with politics – diplomacy, reform, revolution and now China’s quest to be a superpower – it is also a parallel history of China over the past 400 years. We tell the story through the people who made classical music take root, like Mario Paci, the Italian conductor of the Shanghai Symphony in the 1920s and 1930s who stopped at the dog races on the way to his concerts and required a bucket of batons at each rehearsal because he threw so many at his musicians! But Paci also integrated the orchestra after fifty years as a foreigners-only organization – the first Chinese musician to join it, in 1927, was the violinist Tan Shuzhen. Mr. Tan was still alive when we wrote this book, and we follow his career all the way through the dark years of the Cultural Revolution – when 17 of his colleagues at the Shanghai Conservatory committed suicide – up until his final years, which he devoted to making and playing violins. “Rhapsody” is at heart the story of heroes, and once you read it, you’ll understand why China has become such a classical music powerhouse.
Sheila is also the author of “The Little Red Book of China Business” which uses Mao Zedong Thought to understand today’s China. Chairman Mao still matters – though not always apparent, his influence remains strong. The men and women who run China today were raised under Mao and govern in the system he created. Most anyone over fifty can recite large passages of Mao’s “Little Red Book” from memory; those who were born after his death sing songs about Mao, read his poetry, and admire his calligraphy. Mao was a master of politics, strategy, marketing, organizational management and many other areas essential to business (and, often, artistic!) success in China. This book does not in any way condone Mao, or ignore the many tragedies wrought under Mao’s reign – instead, it accepts the reality of his continuing importance and applies this to navigating the working environment in China today.