Alban's Blog

Rostropovich is dead

I just received a text message on my cellphone with the sad news that Mstislav Rostropovich has passed away. Still sitting here at Copenhague airport, and even though I was prepared (I knew he was severely ill, cancer in its last stadium) I feel like in shock. My plane is leaving in 15 minutes and I don’t feel the motivation to get up and do the normal thing like standing in line and boarding.

For me Slava was without a doubt the greatest cellist who ever lived. As all great performers he was not an easy character, but what a musician! Complete musicians like that don’t exist anymore – not only did he do ground-breaking things on the cello (playing with a passion which hadn’t be reached on that instrument before, playing with incredible intonation and much more power than people did before), but he was a brilliant pianist, conducted from an early age on and even composed music (played his little “Moderato” as an encore after my second Berlin Phil date).

What a loss for the musical world, my fingers are typing away, but actually I am just speechless. As long as I can think there was Rostropovich, the idol, the giant, the inspiration. Because of him I wanted to be a cellist, and now that he is gone I feel very, very empty and incredibly sad. Strange, especially since I didn’t have any personal relation with him, but he touched me as a young boy (I played for him when I was 12 years old, he made me realize how much I had to learn…) and inspired me so much while growing up as cellist and musician.

Thank you for having been there for such a long time, and I hope we other cellists will be able to live up to the standards you put there for ever to be!


  • Maja

    Hello there, sad news today… it sounds somehow impossible that he isn’t with us anymore.. i’m just selfishly happy that i had chance to hear him live, and to meet him once…
    what else to say? the legend, idol, giant, “the last of 3″… most of us cellist wouldn’t do what we do if he didn’t exist

  • Bob

    I think you said it as well as it can be said. It is an unspeakable loss. Slava was not just a genius, but a hero to generations of musicians. As a cellist, he was literally beyond compare. As a conductor, he gave his heart to the orchestra and the orchestra played their hearts out for him.

    Slava left us with no heir apparent. There is only one cellist I know of who can approach Slava in terms of techniqe, intellect, communicative ability and elan vital. Alban, the crown is heavy but you can carry it!

  • George

    Alban…Very eloquent tribute to Slava…We will all miss him greatly…Best of luck up in Oregon…I remember our meeting in person when you were last there as a personal and professional highlight in my life..I agree with Bob.

  • Alban

    Yes Maja, you are right, most of us wouldn’t be doing what we are doing! And you are not selfish at all being grateful for the chance of having met him – it’s something you’ll carry on for your life, and you will be able to tell your grandchildren about in a couple of years to come 🙂 or a couple of decades.

    Bob, you are too funny, and I agree with you, that he is beyond compare, so I won’t even start to try to even lift that crown you are talking about! It would smash me.. Today I will hear one of the great living cellists for the first time in my life, Truls Mörk, playing with Berlin Phil the Brahms Double (and with “my” Lisa Batiashvili) – you’ll be able to see that on DVD or TV rather soon, since it is being broadcast all over the world, the 1st of May concert of Berlin Philharmonic, with Sir Simon conducting!

    Yes, you know about his conducting since he was the chief in Washington, DC for many years, and the orchestra did play amazingly under his guidance (they still do, but I remember their sound in the early nineties, quite something).

    Thanks for the wishes, George, I am very much looking forward to coming back to Oregon, had a great time there last time – including meeting you.
    Best wishes,

  • mannerist

    “Anther legend is gone.” one of my friend gave me that news at that day evening by cellphone message. From that time, I listen his Beethoven cello sonatas with Richer over and over. All I can do for him is pray for his eternal rest, I think. From this year, I’ll remeber April with Rostropovich, like Agust with Richter.

    I heard that you’ll be in Korea in this month. I’m looking forward it.
    If there is time for autograph, Someone with round glass will get yours with your Kodaly CD. See you at that time. =)

  • Alban

    These Beethoven Sonatas with Richter and Rostropovich are really wonderful, I agree, maybe my favorite recordings of them. Yes, will be in Korea soon, looking forward to the food and the people! Will try to do some cd signing there, see you then 🙂

  • Josh Rappaport from Harrisburg Pennsylvania

    Forgot to say sorry that Mstislav Rostropovich died. I do agree, he was one of the greatest interpreters of our time.

  • Bob Huenefeld

    The passing of Rostropovich hit me very hard.When I read of his illness,I prayed a lot,and while hoping for the best,I also pray let the will of the Lord be done on Earth as well as in Heaven,where I believe Slava is at this moment.

    Slava was the dedicate of over 100 compositions.More than a merely proficient cellist,he was,and is,and inspiration to many.He was a very courageous man!


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