RIP Mstislav Rostropovich

Mstislav Rostropovich, the ebullient master cellist who fought for the rights of Soviet-era dissidents and later triumphantly played Bach suites below the crumbling Berlin Wall, has died. He was 80. (Seattle Times)

“Music and art are a whole spiritual world in Russia,” he once said. “In Russia, when people go to a concert, they don’t go to it as an attraction, as an entertainment, but to feel life.” (Washington Post)

Bach´s Bourree – Suite No 3

Moreover, he was a bold proponent of contemporary music. In addition to the works created for him by Soviet composers such as Serge Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich, Reinhold Gliere and Aram Khachaturian, Rostropovich had pieces dedicated to him by Lukas Foss, Leonard Bernstein, Henri Dutilleux and Benjamin Britten. Indeed, the cellist is credited with reawakening Britten’s interest in instrumental music after a long period of mostly vocal composition. Britten works created especially for Rostropovich include three suites for unaccompanied cello, a sonata for cello and piano, and a symphony for cello and orchestra. It is a huge gift to the cello repertory — and to 20th-century music. (Washington Post)

Rostropovich’s other great mentor and friend, composer and humanist Dmitri Shostakovich, is not truly represented at all on the new Classical WETA-FM Lite, in the Nation’s Capital; though occasionally snippets of Shostakovich’s minor ballet music or jazz settings are performed for tokenist purposes. This morning, however, National Public Radio did intervene in the new Classical WETA-FM Lite’s reactionary silliness by broadcasting a powerful passage from Shostakovich’s great Symphony #5, when announcing Rostropovich’s passing. (Renaissanceresearch blogspot)

Rastropovitch celebrating a longed-for event.

More music on youtube here.