Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Reposting: Intellectual Responsibility -- When Silence Is Not Golden: Conversations With Mstislav Rostropovich And Galina Vishnevskaya

Intellectual Responsibility: When Silence Is Not Golden: Conversations With Mstislav Rostropovich And Galina Vishnevskaya

"What is the responsibility of intellectuals to other artists and thinkers whom they know are being repressed by their respective governments in other parts of the world? What can they do? What should they do? And does it matter?

The following is an excerpt from conversations with music critic Claude Samuel and world-famous cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and his wife, Bolshoi Opera singer Galina Vishnevskaya. Rostropovich was born in Baku, [Azerbaijan]. The home in which he was born was recently converted into a home museum and the street named after father and son cellists - Leopold and Mstislav.

The observations about how intellectuals should be active grew out of their own personal experience in assisting Russian composers Prokofiev and Shostakovich whose works were censured for a period of time under the restrictive Soviet regime. But then the spotlight was turned on Rostropovich and Galina themselves in 1970 when they befriended dissident writer [Nobel Prize for Literature laureate, 1970] Alexander Solshenitsyn (author of "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" and later the three volume "Gulag Archipelago" describing the horrors of the prison camps in Siberia, which he himself had survived and had lived to tell the story).

Rostropovich invited the writer and his family to spend the winter at his dacha outside of Moscow, as he had no place to live. Then the musician wrote an Open Letter in support of the maligned writer. But his humanitarian gesture brought on retaliation. Soviet authorities turned the spotlight on the musicians and revoked their citizenship and stripped them of all the music honors and privileges while they were on a two-year tour in the United States. This meant the Lenin and Stalin medals, which were the ultimate awards bestowed in the Soviet Union by some of the most respected and highly qualified musicians and music critics in the world. It's an understatement to say that Rostropovich and Galina were shocked by the decision.

Here, Galina and Rostropovich with French journalist and renowned music critic Claude Samuel discuss the responsibility of artists and intellectuals when they learn that fellow artists are being repressed by their governments." ...

Claude Samuel Azerbaijan International Summer 2005

Mstislav Rostropovich, World renown cellist, painted by Tahir Salahov. On display at the Rostropovich Home Museum in Baku, Azerbaijan, where the musician was born. The portrait was prepared specifically in 1999 for the Rostropovich Home Museum. [The Museum, and the Street on which it is located, honor both Mstislav and Leopold Rostropovich, Mstislav's father; who was also a cellist.]

Image credit: (c) Tahir Salahov and Azerbaijan International( 2007. All rights reserved. With thanks.


And with special thanks to, whose non-artificial intelligence, has helped me remember what I have posted and what I could fruitfully be thinking about.


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