The cellist of the century would have been 90 today

Thinking of Slava.

27 March 1927 – 27 April 2007

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  • Hard not to think of him.

    Does anyone know a link to Rostropovich’s own comments on the story behind the iconic photograph with the sleeping guard? The picture always moves me and makes me smile.

  • Norman, thanks for this posting and for choosing two wonderful pieces for remembrance. Slava was one of the immortals, and will remain thus for the rest of our days.

    A great man, a great musician, and a great loss.

  • Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich was undeniably one of the greatest musician of the 20th century.
    It’s rare for one person to have so many unique qualities. Being a genius in music, at the same time he was very humble. Rostropovich has studied composition with Prokofiev and instrumentation with Shostakovich. In his early years he has written quite a few orchestral instrumental and chamber works. Once I asked him as to why he has never publish any of them? He replied: Having had teachers like I had, I did not dare to publish any of my own compositions, so I burned them all!
    Maestro was an incredibly generous person. His infectious energy would transform any event and would turn it to gold.
    He was someone you could call a Guru – musical Saint who knew no boundaries. His Musical wisdom has been a source of inspiration to all people who cared to listen to his voice. Whether he was playing conducting or teaching, he would use the power of Music to defend the true values in life. He stood up for the universal truth, and fought for it tirelessly as a warrior of light with a bow in his hand. He was a very deep and lighthearted personality at the same time. His sense of humour could break any ice wall. Nothing was impossible for Slava! He has lived up to the meaning of his name – Slava! – which stands for Glory from russian translation. The Glorious Mstislav Rostropovich has set new “Absolute” standards in performing arts and has influenced many generations of musicians.
    At our first meeting he said to me – “When you interpret a musical work, most important is while you play what you think about. Musician is an important link from composer to the audience. If you wish to use music to express your own emotions, better become a composer yourself. But once you decide to play Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Ravel or Shostakovich, you have to be a different person in each of these works. The color of your sound of your instrument should be so different, so, the listener could hardly recognize your own style. That quality distinguishes a true artist from just a good instrumentalist”. Thru Rostropovich’s recordings and performances he connected us with the spirit of the great composers of his epoch: Schostakovich, Prokofiev, Khachaturian, Britten, Dutilleux just to mention a few who dedicated their works to him. The passion for music, a true unconditional love for life and his genuine trust in people was so strong, he has inspired millions around the world to make a change, so, with Music the world would become a better place.
    I have been so fortunate to learn from Maestro and to collaborate with him for 17 years. In my heart Slava is immortal. Happy Birthday Maestro!

  • Thank you for this post.I had the privilege of touring Slava in Australia in 1988 and at the last concert he kindly asked me what piece I would like as an encore and it was this movement which he played unforgettably,with the superb Lambert Orkis at the piano.Slava was truly a great man and musician;touring him was an unforgettable experience (as was Maxim Vengerov’s scintillating performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto in Melbourne earlier this month).

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