Sad Day for Cellists

Mstislav Rostropovich has passed away. His 80th birthday was just a month ago, today.

A bear of a man who hugged practically anyone in sight, “Slava” Rostropovich was considered by many to be the successor to Pablo Casals as the world’s greatest cellist. He was an effusive rather than an intimidating maestro, a teacher who nurtured Jacqueline du Pre among many other great cellists.

“He was the most inspiring musician that I have ever known,” said David Finckel, the Emerson String Quartet’s cellist who studied with Rostropovich for nine years. “He had a way to channel his energy through other people, and it was magical.”

The things he has seen and done…. He was friends with Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Britten. He sheltered Solzhenitsyn. Having fled to France in the 1970’s, he feared he’d never see this beloved Russia again. Not so…

But in 1989, as the Berlin Wall was being torn down, Rostropovich showed up with his cello and played Bach cello suites amid the rubble. The next year, his Soviet citizenship was restored, and he made a triumphant return to Russia to perform with Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra, where he was music director from 1977 to 1994.

He fought Communism until his last day. Now there’s no cancer, no pain, no aching bow thumb, no rosin in his nose, no broken strings, so sliding bridges, no fallen soundposts, no busted endpins, no slipping pegs, no arthritic pinkie, no cracks, no wolf-tones, no creaking double-stops, no case as big as you are. Just beautiful music. Forever.

“When I started learning the cello, I fell in love with the instrument because it seemed like a voice — my voice,” Rostropovich told Strad magazine.

I understand completely. Sweet Sixes, dear Slava.

UPDATE: Townhall has a nice tribute. And here he is playing Bourree from #3 (H/T Michelle Malkin).

1 Comment

  1. August 19, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    […] cello posts: Sad Day for Cellists Cello Heaven Mucha Love Honest […]

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