This year marks the eightieth birthday of Mstislav Rostropovich – a musical legend as cellist, conductor and teacher, but also an outsize personality and a courageous human being. Born in Baku in 1927, Rostropovich was the solo cellist of the Moscow Philharmonic and laureate of the Soviet All-Union music competition at the age of twenty, a prodigy blessed with both phenomenal technique and a driving musical intensity. He became, in short order, an international star and a sponsor of new music for the cello, the interpreter par excellence of Shostakovich and Britten.
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