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Mstislav Rostropovich 1927-2007

Fully illustrated New York Times Obituary

Reminiscences from The Times
May 16, 2007 Lives Remembered :-

Peter Gordon-Potts writes:
Rostropovich was the solo cellist at the concert at the Snape Maltings in celebration of the 75th birthday of Peter Pears. Just before he was due to appear, André Previn announced that, at the last moment, Rostropovich had found himself unable to attend. However, by great good fortune he had been able to arrange for one of his star pupils, Galina Shevninskaya, to play in his stead. She appeared on the platform, settled comfortably into her chair, and looked up to the conductor to indicate she was ready to begin. It was only when she removed her wig that the “star pupil” was revealed as the great man himself.

Tony Pristavec writes:
The first time I met the maestro and his cello at Heathrow to drive him home, I asked how he wanted to put his valuable instrument into the vehicle. His response floored me: “Head first into the front seat – just like a beautiful woman.”

Julian Hall writes:
My treasured memory of Rostropovich is of him in the Jubilee Hall at Aldeburgh. We had arrived early for what was to be a superb master class. A rather battered upright piano was on the stage and an elegant young woman was cleaning it with a spray and a duster. Rostropovich appeared from backstage, took a look at what was going on, seized the spray can, sprayed polish on his own head, and then buffed it up with the duster. He left roaring with laughter, as were we.


Jill Crossland writes: With the passing of Mstislav Rostropovich ends the era of the great Soviet artists, who witnessed history and were part of it.

Shostakovich, Richter, Oistrakh, Gilels, Mravinsky.....Rostropovich was the last representative
of what might have been a historical and political nightmare, but was a musical golden age.

I only met Rostropovich once when working as a pianist for the LSO; he was
already 75, but I found everything one heard about his legendary charm
and youthfulness of spirit was true. He was so interested in everything
and everyone around him. There was a real twinkle in his eye.

Others are better qualified to speak of his wonderful legacy of recordings and
his political stature (we know he made a stand by sheltering Solzhenitsyn
and later, as a friend of Boris Yeltsin, he helped negotiate with the communist rebels).
But the whole musical world will mourn him, and many speak of him as
the greatest 'cellist of all time.