Berio, Bernstein, Britten, Khachaturian, Dutilleux, Lutoslawski, Penderecki, Prokofiev, Schnittke, Shostakovich and Walton are some of the many contemporary composers who have dedicated works to Mstislav Rostropovich – works which include some of the most important cello compositions of our age and, taken together, eloquently testify to this man´s artistic significance and standing, both as an advocate of his instrument and its repertoire, as a proponent of Russian music, and as a living inspiration and prime mover, worldwide, for the writing of new cello compositions.
Through his unusual artistic versatility – he is not only a cellist and conductor but also a skillful pianist and accompanist – through his friendship and close association with the very foremost Russian musicians and composers of our time such as Oistrach, Prokofiev, Richter, Shostakovich and Kogan, and through his teaching at the Moscow and St Petersburg Conservatories, Mstislav Rostropovitch, as a musician and cultural personality, has had an importance and influence, both in Russia and internationally, the full compass of which has yet to be perceived.
This also includes his uncompromising campaign – with the assumption of great personal risk – for human dignity and artistic integrity during the darkest phases of the Soviet epoch. That courage, which eventually made him an exile, has earned him worldwide respect.
Mstislav Rostropovich first visited Sweden as long ago as 1951. Since then, his numerous guest performances have been indispensable vitamin injections in the musical life of this country, and among other things he has come to be seen as a challenging example and source of inspiration to the present, successful young generation of Swedish cellists.
Today, aged 68 and still zestfully active the world over, constantly prepared to share his gifts with others, he is to all of us the personification of true musicianship and artistic genius.