I had the pleasure and privilege to meet him and to be conducted by him … I actually met him twice. I sure remember those two times.
The first was when he was taking a sabatical as music director of the National Symphony in Washington DC. And he was the guest conductor of the annual concert my college always had. Usually the concert was performed at the Kennedy Center’s symphony hall, but because Maestro Rostropovich was officially on leave the rules prevented him from conducting at the Kennedy Center. So we performed at Constitution Hall instead.
Rostropovich was at one time considered to be the greatest cellist in the world. I still remember the look of sheer terror on the cello section during the Swan piece from Carnival of Animals. But Maestro was an extraordinary teacher – finding just the right word pictures to communicate what he wanted from the musician.
The second time was backstage at the Kennedy Center. I was among a group of students who met him and Maestro Rafael DeBurgos, spoke with them about making music with a symphony, and then being priviledged to sit in on a rehearsal. The concert that evening was Orff’s Carmina Burana.
“Slava” was also an inspiration for many with his humanitarian work.
I will pray for the repose of his soul. May he enjoy the eternal music.
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