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Mstislav Rostropovich (1927-2007)

Mstislav Rostropovich (1927-2007)

A small remembrance of an amazing musician…

One of the most important records in my collection is Mstislav Rostropovich’s performance of Benjamin Britten’s Cello Suites, as beautiful a collection of music as I have ever heard. Rostropovich’s playing made me fall in love with the cello, and to this day I consider his work as a cellist and conductor to be one of the slender threads that has kept me connected to the world of classical music. He is also my bridge between modern classical (which I am learning to enjoy more and more) and mid-20th century orchestral and chamber music (which I love). But it is his political will (the Soviet Union revoked his citizenship in the 1970’s because of his support for artistic freedom, particularly that of his friend, the novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn) that has always made him something of a private icon for me; Another modernist who understood that only freedom of expression can lead humanity to great achievement.

I saw a wonderful documentary a few years back about his return to Russia after years of exile, and his playing was so powerful, an audience member stood up during one if his performances and shouted “Slava is Zeus!” His impact on Russian and American music is unquestionable. I am terribly sad to hear of his passing. Though I have lost touch with his recent work, his commitment to his art and the exquisitely beautiful music he made will be with me forever. Rest In Peace, Slava.

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