Master cellist Msitslav Rostropovich died this morning in Moscow, and a part of me is thinking that the fact that I bought new strings for my own cello yesterday is some kind of precognitive tribute.
I’ve only ever heard him play in recordings – his version of the Bach unaccompanied suites is soul stirring – and I’ve seen recordings of him conducting as well. (Conductors, by the way, are hot. They just are. It’s intrinsic.) I’ve read some of his writings about the instrument, and I’ve seen video footage of his playing, his lithe fingers dancing over the strings, a merry gleam in his eye, as if he knows he’s the one in charge of the music, and we’re all just joining him on a journey.
He may not be quite as known among the masses as Yo-Yo Ma or Jacqueline DuPre (he taught the latter, by the way), but in classical music he’s the standard by which others are measured, the spiritual successor to Pablo Casals.
He was 80, when he died, which isn’t horribly young, but even so, it seems too soon.
I never knew him, only his music, but I’ll miss him.
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