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Maestro Rostropovich Passes away at 80-years-old

April 27, 2007 at 03:18 PM · Oh my god. It's 1:19AM here in hawaii, and through google update, I just found out that Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich passed away. I am in shock right now and am just speechless. Maestro was 80 years old, which one could say was a nice age to go...but I still feel as though the world has lost one of THE greatest musicians in our history. he was not only a fabulous cellist and artist, but he was also a great humanitarian...fighting for human rights and living in exile from the soviet union. I'm probably rambling right now,because i'm so tired, but i just felt the need to post this.

Here's a link to an article on his life and passing:

My heart goes out to his family and loved well as our community, because we truly have lost a wonderful soul.

Replies (30)

April 27, 2007 at 03:37 PM · I'm in shock too, Patrick. The loss is incalculable, his greatness was immeasurable. By any account one of the very greatest people of our time, and today the world is badly diminished for his loss.

There's a touching anecdote in today's Washington Post about him when he was music director of the National Symphone Orch. in Washington:

"In 1982 a stagehand named Bull McNeil, who traveled with the orchestra, died. At the Alexandria funeral parlor where the wake was being held, Rostropovich showed up unannounced with his cello shortly before closing time. He walked over to the open coffin, said a short prayer, played some music on the cello and then left, in silence."

Rest in peace, great man.

April 27, 2007 at 03:59 PM · Heaven has just gained another unique musical genius and a person who was already an angel when he was alive.

April 27, 2007 at 04:13 PM · Yes, really sad, sombering news to hear this morning. : (

That's a very touching anecdote from the Washington Post, Mitchell - thanks for posting it.

April 27, 2007 at 04:16 PM · Sander, that is a beautiful way of putting it. I'm in shock too. It is a terribly sad day for the music world. We've lost a legend.

April 27, 2007 at 04:32 PM · You're welcome, Terez.

April 27, 2007 at 04:38 PM · Nicely put, Sander. I still can't say anything. No words will come out.

April 27, 2007 at 05:09 PM · Mere words cannot express the contributions Mr. Rostropovich had on the arts and humanities the last 6 decades. He was the last of that generation, a generation where artistry came before the individual personality. And, thanks to him, cellists have a broader, more substantial repertoire.


April 27, 2007 at 05:26 PM · I just saw on the BBC. He was truly an amazing person.

April 27, 2007 at 07:24 PM · I put up some links at the bottom of my blog.

Maybe we should all play something in his honor when we practice today.

April 27, 2007 at 08:46 PM · A terrible loss....I don't know if I can say anything that hasn't been said.

I'll be playing Beethoven's Funeral March in his memory.

April 28, 2007 at 03:57 AM · No other single person has done as much for the cello as he has.

His talent inspired compositions from numerous composers such as Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Prokofiev, Britten, Dutilleux, Bernstein, and Penderecki. He and fellow Soviet composer Dmitri Kabalevsky completed Prokofiev's Cello Concertino after the composer's death. Rostropovich gave the first performances of both of Shostakovich's cello concertos. Rostropovich introduced Shostakovich's First Concerto to London and began an association with Benjamin Britten. Britten dedicated the Cello Sonata, three Solo Suites and the Cello Symphony to Rostropovich, who gave their first performances.

April 28, 2007 at 10:28 AM · Not only did he contribute greatly to the classical world, what he did in terms of humanitarian efforts was imo was brave, honest, and just.

Today, i had a lengthy discussion with my school orchestra conductor who really was saddened by this news. It seem as if maestro indirectly touched so many lives.

I'm 17. I personally did not know who he was up until 2 years ago when I began researching cellists. His recordings of the dvorak, shostakovich, elgar, saint-saens, etc are just so distinct and wonderful.

I never get tired of listening to his shostakovich recordings...his performances and albums have deeply moved me. Such vigor and passion in his playing.

May you finally rest in peace Maestro.

April 28, 2007 at 01:24 PM · Hi,

Sander said it so well... I can't come up with anything in words to remember Mr. Rostropovitch, only music.

April 28, 2007 at 02:52 PM · Hi guys,

I've just read on the BBC article about his legacy, in the paragraph about how the Dvorak was one of his signature pieces:

"His Deutsche Grammophon disc with Herbert von Karajan is probably the best-selling of his many versions, but by far the most charged is a live recording of a Proms performance given the day that Soviet tanks entered Prague on 21 August, 1968."

Does anyone know if that 1968 recording is still available?! Where can I find it? I'm crazy to hear it now!

Edit: Never mind, found it on Amazon. A review is probably forthcoming. :)

April 28, 2007 at 06:14 PM · my favorite recording of his was the Brahms Cello Sonatas with serkin. It's one of a kind :)

April 28, 2007 at 06:32 PM · He shall remain in our hearts and our souls as one of the last great Mohicans of the music world.

My sincere condolences to his family.

ps: we (Seattle Symphony) have played with him less than a year ago. And he was as great as ever.

April 29, 2007 at 01:18 PM · There's a beautiful story, David Finckel, the cellist of the Emerson Quartet, told in an interview, which seems to sum up M. Rostropovichs personality pretty well.

April 30, 2007 at 04:24 AM · Last night at Interlochen the whole cello section, including Mark Summer from the Turtle Island Quartet, paid a special, impromptu tribute to Rostroprovich by playing The Swan... it was touching.

April 30, 2007 at 06:43 AM · How appropriate that the widow of Boris Yeltsin would be present for Rostropovich's funeral. Yeltsin led Russia out of communism; Rostropovich helped make it possible for Yeltsin to succeed.

May 1, 2007 at 07:29 PM · Rest In Peace maestro. You have given us some of the most beautiful musical performances of all time, and you were the best of teachers for teaching us by example. For that we thank you many times over. God bless you.

May 11, 2007 at 06:15 PM · Sorry to get onto this thread so late. Just wanted to say I had the privilege of having a master class with Rostropovich on his tour to India in '89. I played Bach G min Adagio (solo violin). He was so simple, unassuming. He tuaght me the concept of the Golden Point in phrasing, the similarities between music & architecture.

He gave us each a bear hug & kiss on both cheeks, Russian style. didn't wash my face several days after that! :-)

In the day he performed in Goa, it happened to be a local cellist's birthday, so he dedicated the concert to her & called her his "colleague". High praise indeed. I'll never forget those days he spent in Goa.

May 11, 2007 at 08:51 PM · Well, what is the concept of the Golden Point in phrasing?

May 11, 2007 at 09:08 PM · I assume golden point is the same thing as the golden section? .618, yes?

May 11, 2007 at 09:58 PM · I'm 618% sure we'll never know.

May 12, 2007 at 08:59 AM · Not quite 2/3. In my mind, I see a phrase that peaks roughly 2/3 of the way through. Very aesthetic, isn't it? Bach does that a lot. You can see it in individual phrases as well as in the structure of entire movements. The crux of most pieces happens somewhere around 2/3 of the way through. I was showing that to a student on Chopin's Prelude in E Minor on Wednesday.

Which leads me to argue that Wednesday is not in fact hump day. Thursday is.

May 12, 2007 at 10:55 AM · I remember reading something about Rachmaninoff, that he, too, believed that each piece had a "point," a certain place in the music that was the musical, emotional, or aesthetic high point of that piece or movement. The anecdote I read was that after a particular concert he was backstage pacing around unhappily and muttering to himself over and over, "I missed the POINT. I missed the POINT."

May 13, 2007 at 02:32 AM · A major triad resembles the golden mean. So does the minor. Wow, no wonder they fit together so nicely.

May 19, 2007 at 05:55 PM · The golden ratio is so important in music. Especially in Bach, who uses it everywhere. He uses the golden section and even the reverse golden section. Bartok, who was so heavily influenced by Bach, uses it also. The entire first movement of the music for strings, percussion, and celesta is entirely based on the golden section with him finding a variety of ways to use it. Mozart uses the golden section, but curiously, he didn't write in his letters anything about it. It is entirely possible he didn't know about it, because he usually writes about things like that in his letters. Sometimes, he misses the golden section by maybe 1 or 2 bars. But if he knew nothing about it, and still used it, it would mean that his musical instincts and his sense of aesthetics were essentially perfect.

May 19, 2007 at 06:28 PM · Is that what the Golden Section is, a high point in a phraise?

May 20, 2007 at 08:42 AM · The golden ratio is derived from the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical series of numbers named for the man who discovered them. It's a very simple sequence, created when a number is added to the previous number in the series to create the next number: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55...

If you divide a number in the sequence by the number after it, you arrive at the decimal .618.

Another way to look at it is to create a rectangle with dimentions based on two successive numbers. The larger number which is the length of this recangle will then become the width of the next rectangle. And then you make a pretty spiral:

Fibonacci sequence

You know what, though? The "golden mean" is a complely different subject. Philosophically, it's the ideal balance between two extremes. I shouldn't have used that phrase interchangably in an earlier post. But the golden mean is something good to think about, too.

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