Sadness in E minor

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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3 thoughts on “Sadness in E minor

  1. This is a nice tribute. I don’t know much of the classical music world (I know I like to listen to it on occasion, just not much in particular), but I feel like I know this one cellist a little better through your elegant description…

    Michele sent me,


  2. I met him, once, managed to slip backstage to get his autograph after a concert – he greeted my idiot 13-year-old self like an old friend. He was an incredibly charismatic man. I’ll get round to writing something, later on….

  3. That’s the really cool thing about artists of all stripes: their influence tends to spread via a kind of multiplier effect, touching people far away who they may have never met.

    It’s a humbling thing when you’re an artist. Knowing that you can have that kind of impact is a pretty neat thing.

    I’m sure he knew that. Your eloquent entry is testament to that.

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