So today I am a little bit sad because Mstislav Rostropovich passed away. I don’t profess to have the most extended knowledge of classical music, but my parents did buy me season tickets at the Utah Symphony each year I was at BYU for my annual birthday present. I also know this: more than any other instrument, I love the cello. The only instrument that I know how to play at all is the clarinet, and although in my middle school days, I thought I was quite the talent, compared to people who have actual musical gifts, that was pretty much a joke. Nonetheless, if I could actually sit down and learn how to play any instrument very well, it would be the cello. The reason for that is partly because of Rostropovich.
The first time I heard Shostakovich’s Cello Concert No. 1, written for Rostropovich, and played by Rostropovich in a recording, it changed the way I listened to classical music. Prior to that, Russian classical music was just the background for beautiful ballet choreography. I listened to Tchaikovsky, Stravinksy, in terms of the choreography that I could see in my mind. Or, growing up, I only thought about classical music in terms apart from ballet on Sundays, when my mother required us to listen to the local classical music station. But that recording affected me in such a way that I knew I would never listen to classical music the same. That cello sounded exactly like the way I thought my life would sound if it were an instrument.
Thank you Rostropovich.