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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: April 27, 2007 Archive

Rostropovich has died

Posted at 5:12 AM on April 27, 2007 by John Zech (31 Comments)
Filed under: The blog

The news just came across the wires early this morning. Here's the obit from the A-P:

MOSCOW (AP) - Famed master cellist and conductor Mstislav
Rostropovich has died.
The maestro, who was 80, died in Moscow.
He had lived abroad for years in self-imposed exile and became a
courageous champion of the rights of Soviet-era dissidents. Later
he triumphantly played Bach below the crumbling Berlin Wall.
Rostropovich was hospitalized in Paris in February, suffering
from intestinal cancer. After he took a turn for the worse, his
family arranged for him to be flown back to Russia. Among those who
called on him to pay respects were Russia's President Vladimir
He was well enough last month to attend a celebration at the
Kremlin honoring his 80th birthday.
Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency reports he was hospitalized again
several days ago.

Comment on this post

Remembering Slava

Posted at 6:13 AM on April 27, 2007 by John Birge

Having just posted these a month ago to celebrate his 80th birthday, let's remember the late Mstislav Rostropovich with some marvelous jaw-jutting videos of "Slava" playing his cello. Always an intense player, and a joy to watch as well as hear. A sampling of Bach, Beethoven, and Dvorak.

Rostropovich Remembrances

Posted at 3:55 PM on April 27, 2007 by Rex Levang

From the many remembrances of Mstislav Rostropovich that have appeared, here are just two, from Washington, the U. S. city that knew him best: an online chat with music critic Tim Page, and an obituary which includes this anecdote:

He demanded much of his orchestra. In return, he offered loyalty and friendship, not only to his musicians but to the support staff.

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.

Girl Power!

Posted at 5:22 PM on April 27, 2007 by Alison Young

The "Girl King," Christina Wasa of Sweden was an intellectual prodigy. It's claimed that she brought Descartes to Stockholm so she could carry on a conversation about the meaning of love. Sweden's famously cold temperatures and her early-morning study sessions contributed to his sudden death from pneumonia.

In the 1933 movie based on the life of Christina, Greta Garbo speaks a line that sums up her life in that cold, distant country, "One can feel nostalgia for places one has never seen."

As a ruler, Christina ended the Thirty Years War, maybe a bit too hastily as the Swedes were not able to capitalize on the spoils of war. But as far as music and the arts go, she enticed one of the most glittering and creative crowds of musicians and composers to her court from the far reaches of Europe, including places she had never seen but felt nostalgia for, like Italy. The group only disbanded after she abdicated the throne in her thirties to follow her zeal for Catholicism.

You can hear some of the music from her court and more tales about this amazing woman ahead of her time with the Minneapolis group The Rose Ensemble in concerts beginning next Friday.

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