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Mstislav Rostropovich

Mstislav Rostropovich
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Alternate Title
Mastery and Meaning
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich
Nelson Shanks, 23 Dec 1937 - 28 Aug 2015
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich, 27 Mar 1927 - 27 Apr 2007
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 156.2 × 128.3 cm (61 1/2 × 50 1/2")
Frame: 186.7 × 158.8 × 5.1 cm (73 1/2 × 62 1/2 × 2")
Music\Musical instrument\Cello
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich: Male
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich: Society and Social Change\Reformer
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich: Education\Educator\Teacher
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Cellist
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Conductor
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich: Legion of Honor
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich: Presidential Medal of Freedom
Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich: Society and Social Change\Founder\Health & Medicine
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Annette P. Cumming
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
© Estate of Nelson Shanks
Object number
Exhibition Label
Mstislav Rostropovich, who was the music director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., from 1977 to 1994, studied piano and cello while growing up in the former Soviet Union. After graduating from the Moscow Conservatory in 1948, he began touring internationally and earned a reputation as a world-renowned cellist. Later on, however, the Soviet government restricted Rostropovich’s travel for having supported the dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The musician and his wife, Galina Vishnevskaya, a soprano, lost their Soviet citizenship in 1978, when they were living in the United States. It wasn’t until 1990, after Rostropovich had received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1987), that Mikhail Gorbachev’s government restored their citizenship.
Nelson Shanks set this portrait in the abbey church of Vézelay, France, where Rostropovich had performed Johann Sebastian Bach’s six suites for unaccompanied cello. The letters B-A-C-H appear in the four stained glass windows in the background.
Mstislav Rostropovich fue director musical de la Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional en Washington D.C. desde 1977 hasta 1994. Estudió piano y violonchelo en la antigua Unión Soviética, donde nació, y al graduarse del Conservatorio de Moscú en 1948 inició sus presentaciones internacionales, convirtiéndose en un violonchelista de fama mundial.
Posteriormente, el gobierno soviético restringió los viajes de Rostropovich como represalia por apoyar al escritor disidente Aleksandr Solzhenitsin. El músico y su esposa, la soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, perdieron la ciudadanía soviética en 1978, mientras vivían en Estados Unidos. No fue hasta 1990, luego de haber recibido el músico la Medalla Presidencial de la Libertad (1987), que el gobierno de Mijaíl Gorbachov les restituyó la ciudadanía.
Nelson Shanks situó este retrato en la iglesia de la abadía de Vézelay, Francia, donde Rostropovich había ejecutado las seis suites para violonchelo solo de Johann Sebastian Bach. Las letras B-A-C-H aparecen en los cuatro vitrales del fondo.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery