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                             MSTISLAV ROSTROPOVICH: GREAT MUSICIAN, GREAT MAN
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Philharmonic Festival
SLAVA & FRIENDS - The New York Philharmonic Celebrates Mstislav Rostropovich


Mstislav Rostropovich, cellist, teacher, conductor, mentor to many young musicians, and friend and colleague of composers who were inspired to write for him, was celebrated in the Philharmonic Festival: Slava & Friends, Thursday, March 20 through Saturday, April 5, 2003. The three-week New York Philharmonic festival, which coincided with Maestro Rostropovich's 76th birthday (March 27), featured performances by colleagues and protégés, including pianists Martha Argerich, Yefim Bronfman, and Evgeny Kissin; violinist Maxim Vengerov; violist Yuri Bashmet; and cellist Xavier Phillips in his Philharmonic debut.


Throughout the festival, Mr. Rostropovich conducted works by composers whom he had known personally as friends, mentors, or colleagues: Bernstein, Britten, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Henri Dutilleux, Lutoslawski, and Krzysztof Penderecki. Several of the compositions received their New York Philharmonic premieres during the festival.

On Thursday, March 20, 2003, at 7:30 p.m.(EST), the concert - featuring Mr. Rostropovich conducting works by Bernstein, Prokofiev, Henri Dutilleux, and Lutoslawski, with pianist Martha Argerich as soloist - was broadcast on the continuing monthly radio series WQXR.com Presents: The New York Philharmonic Live!, aired locally in New York on 96.3FM WQXR.


Maestro Rostropovich was on the podium for much of the festival with Ms. Argerich, Mr. Kissin, Mr. Vengerov, and Mr. Phillips as soloists. In addition, he performed as cellist in chamber concerts at Avery Fisher Hall on two Sundays, March 23 and 30, with Musicians of the New York Philharmonic and Ms. Argerich, Mr. Bashmet, Mr. Bronfman, and Mr. Vengerov. Throughout his lifetime Maestro Rostropovich inspired hundreds of artists, many of whom have become cherished colleagues. Following are some of their tributes:

"When we first heard Slava's recordings, my fellow students and I went berserk," says violinist Itzhak Perlman. "He became a legend immediately. His personality is very effusive; it's just like the way he plays the cello. When he plays, it's huge... with beautiful colors and fantastic control. He's the same way when he conducts."
 
"When I was growing up [in the Soviet Union], his name was never mentioned in the media, but I knew people who knew him and told stories about him," says pianist Evgeny Kissin, "and because of his music and his personality - his caring and his dignity - he became my idol."
 
"We young musicians know how Shostakovich and Prokofiev and Britten must sound because we have the man in front of us who tells us about his relations with them," says violinist Maxim Vengerov. "We will certainly pass on this tradition to future generations."


Maestro Rostropovich's performances and recordings have covered nearly the entire cello literature, and have enhanced the canon through new repertoire that resulted from his personal contact with composers such as Britten, Prokofiev, Berio, Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Pierre Boulez, Messaien, Schnittke, Ginastera, Bernstein, Henri Dutilleux, Lutoslawski, and Krzysztof Penderecki. Since arriving from the former Soviet Union in 1974 he became one of the leading conductors in the West, serving as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., from 1977 to 1996.


Photo shows Rostropovich with composer Prokokiev(courtesy: CAMI)


Photo credit: Chris Lee (top)
Information (text and photo) source: New York Philharmonic Orchestra Press Office


Background music clip is from Ludwig von Beethoven, Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 5 No.2, for Cello and Piano, Mstislav Rostropovich (cello), Sviatoslav Richter (piano) (1963, 1967); Beethoven: Complete Music for Cello and Piano; Philips D206206 (442 566-2), Philips Classics Productions 1994.





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