Friday, April 27, 2007

Rostropovich is dead!

Only a week ago I was chatting to someone from a Vilnius orchestra who told me that their summer orchestra tour with Rostropovich had been cancelled due to his ill-health. Today he died - it seems he had cancer.

Young Lithuanian and, actually young musicians from most former Soviet nations, have much to thank him and his Rostropovich foundation for, which used his considerable fame to organise scholarships and maybe even helped to organise music students to study with particular teachers. That's apart from the help his foundation gave to children in need, including those suffering from cancer. To be fair, though, the ticket prices for the concerts associated with his charity sometimes were eyewateringly high. But the story goes that he waived his fee for these concerts.

He was a great friend of Lithuania - I have a feeling our President, in a previous turn of office, gave him honorary Lithuanian citizenship. He would often be seen visiting his friend Rodion Scedrin's lakeside house near Vilnius. Obviously his concerts were always sold out.

Our President, Adamkus, is a few months older than Rostropovich. He made a point of attending Rostropovich's concerts, one of which fell on the President's 75th birthday. Our President has spent most of his life in America and was probably not used to Russian ways, especially relating to male brotherhood. (He's not generally approving of Russia, being one of the two Baltic Presidents who refused to attend the Russian 60 years after the end of WWII celebrations.) But Rostropovich of course had his own problems with Russia. At the end of the concert Rostropovich jumped off the metre-high stage, ran round to the President, and slobbered three very wet kisses all over him. The President has just about recovered. Needs to be said that Rostropovich was big into kissing people; I must be one of the few he has not kissed.

The music world will be poorer without him.


violainvilnius said...

here's a nice story by the lovely James MacMillan http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/music/2007/04/slava_my_fierce_funny_friend.html