Commemorating Maestro Rostropovich
The 27th of March was the birthday of one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century – Mstislav Rostropovich – citizen of the world, father, cellist, husband, conductor, Maestro...
His death in 2007 was a shock for all music lovers, for his numerous pupils, friends and all those who felt the special aura that existed around this man. Considered as one of the world’s greatest cellists he inspired his contemporaries to compose music. Rostropovich had an influential career, was obliged to leave his home country, and returned when it needed him most. Whilst abroad, he was Musical Director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, conductor at London’s Symphony Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras. As a pianist he was an ideal accompanist to his wife, the diva Galina Vishnevskaya, and they toured together all over the world after leaving the USSR.
The Maestro became a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Commander of the Legion d’Honeur of France and the Japanese Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale. He also received a Stalin Prize and the State Prize of Russia for his defence of human rights in post-Soviet Russia, where he returned with his wife in the early 1990s. He found that this country really needed them, and Vishnevskaya and Rostropovich gladly shared their knowledge, experience and love with Russian musicians who immediately encircled them.
This is how the Opera Centre emerged. Mstislav took an active part in organising unique master classes and concerts such as ‘Unknown Shostakovich – Music of the War Brigades’, for example, that became a unique part of the history of the young Centre, since it opened in 2002. It was under Rostropovich’s direction that in 2004 the Centre went on its first foreign tour together with the Russian National Orchestra. Soloists perfumed at a concert completing the Year of Russia in Germany. According to the Maestro, he was happy that ‘Russia is still rich in talent’, something that was proved through his creation, the Charity Foundation, launched in 1997, which is now directed by his daughter Olga Rostropovich.
The Foundation gathers the best Russian violinists, pianists, cellists and other performers from different regions of Russia, presents them with scholarships, organises concert performances, and cultivates young musicians artistically. Last year, the Opera Centre organised a commemorating concert in honour of Mstislav Rostropovich that featured the best soloists from the Opera Centre of Galina Vishnevskaya Foundation and Yury Bashmet’s symphony orchestra ‘New Russia’. This year they launched a festival which enjoyed international status right from the beginning. The festival billboard includes those same top Moscow concert halls which greeted the Maestro years ago: the Grand Hall of the
Conservatory, the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, the Colonnade Hall of Soyuz House and others. Among performers are Yury Bashmet, Boris Belkin, Maxim Vengerov, Sergey Krylov, Yury Temirkanov, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra conducted by Mikhail Pletnev, Moscow State Academic Choir directed by Vladimir Minin, the young cellists Sergey Antonov and Xavier Philipps.
All the light and love that Rostropovich planted during his life in his pupils has now taken root roots and blooms in memory of Maestro.