Mischa Maisky was born in 1948 in Riga and is the younger brother of organist, harpsichordist and musicologist Valery Maisky (1942–1981).
He was taught by Mstislav Rostropovich at the Moscow Conservatory from 1966 to 1970. In 1966, he won sixth prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. In 1970, he was arrested and spent 18 months in jail and a work camp and later 2 months in mental hospital. He emigrated to Israel in 1972, where he holds citizenship. In 1974 he studied with Gregor Piatigorsky in Los Angeles. Maisky currently lives in Belgium.
Maisky has worked with artists including the pianists Martha Argerich, Khatia Buniatishvili, Radu Lupu, Nelson Freire, Peter Serkin, Evgeny Kissin, Lang Lang and Sergio Tiempo, the violinists Gidon Kremer, Itzhak Perlman, Vadim Repin, Maxim Vengerov, Joshua Bell, Julian Rachlin and Janine Jansen, and the conductors Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Carlo Maria Giulini, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Yuri Temirkanov, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim, James Levine, Charles Dutoit, Mariss Jansons, Valery Gergiev, and Gustavo Dudamel among others.
Maisky first performed in the United States at Carnegie Hall in 1973. In 1976, he made his first performance in London and performed a recital with Radu Lupu the following year. He returned to Russia in 1995 to perform and record with Russian National Orchestra and Mikhail Pletnev.
In 2021 DG released box of 44 CD’s with his complete recordings.