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Great Russian Musician Celebrated In Moscow

26. March 2010 by Michelle 0 Comments

Mstislav Rostropovich

His friends called him Slava, but he was born Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich and became one the world’s great cellists. He was also a strong advocate of human rights and was awarded the Annual Award of the International League of Human Rights in 1974. March 27th marks the 83rd anniversary of his birthday and a weeklong music festival in his honor begins in Moscow.


Rostropovich discovered his music talents at the early age of 4, when he began learning the piano with his mother. He then started playing the cello at age 10 with his father. At age 16, he began studying conducting and composition, along with the piano and cello at the Moscow Conservatory. Two years later he won the gold medal in the first ever Soviet Union competition for young musicians.


As he began traveling the globe for performances with some of the world’s greatest musicians and orchestras, he also became very involved in the fight for freedom from the Soviet regime. The opposition and harassment he faced resulted in Rostropovich, along with his wife and children, fleeing to the United States in 1974. He became the musical director and conductor for the U.S. National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., before returning to Russia in 1990.


His health began declining in 2006 and 1 month after his 80th birthday, on March 27, 2007, Rostropovich passed away. He received over 50 awards during his lifetime, including a Grammy Award in 1984. He is said to have glorified Russia and Russian art and worshipped the Russian people, which is why this music festival has special meaning for all of Russian culture.


The "1st International Mstislav Rostropovich Week" celebration takes place in Moscow’s finest concert halls, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, the Hall of Columns of the House of Unions, and the Moscow International House of Music. World famous soloists and ensembles will perform including the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra and the Moscow Chamber Choir. This is truly an important event for Rostropovich admirers and music lovers everywhere.


Enjoy this performance by Rostropovich at the Basilique Sainte Madeleine, Vézelay, Yonne, France in 1991.