Born: 27 March, 1927 Baku, Azerbaijian, USSR
'Cellist, Pianist and Conductor
He is 'Slava' to the music world and beyond. He and his wife, soprano Galina Vishnevskaya have been musical and political symbols of artistic freedom for four decades. Expelled from the Soviet Union in the mid-1970's after harbouring the dissident writer Solzhenitzyn in his home, Rostropovich has been a citizen of the world ever since. However, like so many other Russian exiles he has made his peace with his homeland and is now revered in modern-day Russia as a patriot and an artist.
Mstislav Rostropovich is the son of a celebrated 'cello teacher who himself was a pupil of Casals. 'Slava' graudated from the Moscow Conservatory in the late 1940's, won competitions left and right and began his international career as soon as the 'thaw' in East-West relations began in the mid-1950's.
He established a special relationship with England and particularly Benjamin Britten and the Aldeburgh Festival. Britten wrote his 'cello suites and his 'cello symphony for Rostropovich and often performed as pianist in recital with him. Their partnership is preserved on several Decca recordings.
No short biography can do justice to this towering musical presence. Rostropovich married soprano Galina Vishnevskaya with whom he toured as pianist and conductor and with whom he has recorded both Russian and Italian opera. His conducting career took off in the 1970's and he has been Music Director of the National Symphony in Washington, DC as well as a frequent guest with all the major international orchestras and opera companies.
A long list of 20th century composers have written for him including, Shostakovich, Prokofiev Khacahturian, Dutilleux, Bernstein and of course Britten.