Mstislav Rostropovich

Feb 27, 2018

Credit SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

I had the enormous good fortune as a young man to get to work with the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Rostropovich, or “Slava,” as everybody called him, was the music director of the National Symphony Orchestra when I played in that ensemble, and with all his other engagements he still somehow made time to give master classes just for members of the orchestra. 

I learned a tremendous amount from him, and to this day I don’t seem to be able to give a master class myself without quoting Slava at least several times—especially since he could be extremely funny. One time, for example, he was stressing the importance of finding variety in sound color, but rather than wax poetic he simply said, “Even if it’s beautiful, if sound stays same, pretty soon guy in audience says to guy next to him, ‘Where you going for dinner?’ and other guy says, ‘Oh. I don’t know. Where you going for dinner?’” Mstislav Rostropovich. I still miss him.

This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.