Rostropovich Speaks about his Competition (in 2005)

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David Abrams
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Enregistré le :sam. juil. 01, 2006 9:50 pm
Localisation :New York, États Unis
Rostropovich Speaks about his Competition (in 2005)

Message par David Abrams » lun. nov. 06, 2006 4:39 pm

Hi everyone,
There is a very charming and important radio program on French radio, where Rostropovich speaks about his Rostropovich Cello Competition. The interview occurred before the 8th Competition in Paris in November 2005. But it probably occurred just before or even during the Competition in November 9-22, 2005. I do not know the name of the interviewer, who is really superb, and the incredibly charming and vivacious French translator, who even captures Rostropovich's intonation and emotional way of speaking! The interview is on the radio station Télé and it can be listened to at this hyperlink:

<<Rostropovich Parle de son Concours>> ... article=13

I will try to put an English translation of the French translation of Rostropovich's Russian here on this Forum, and then maybe a wonderful bilingual French cellist here could tell me what French words I missed?

Madame Irma
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Enregistré le :jeu. mars 10, 2005 3:18 pm

Re: Rostropovich Speaks about his Competition (in 2005)

Message par Madame Irma » lun. nov. 06, 2006 4:44 pm

David Abrams a écrit : I will try to put an English translation of the French translation of Rostropovich's Russian here on this Forum, and then maybe a wonderful bilingual French cellist here could tell me what French words I missed?
Please do so : no matter how wonderful and bilingual and French I am, I can't do anything with an audio file - can't listen to it at the office!
Je ne parle pas aux cons, ca ne les instruit même pas.

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David Abrams
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Enregistré le :sam. juil. 01, 2006 9:50 pm
Localisation :New York, États Unis

My English translation of Rostropovich Interview

Message par David Abrams » mar. nov. 07, 2006 12:03 am

Here is my rough English translation of the interview with Rostropovich on French Radio Station at the beginning of the Rostropovich Competition in Paris in November 2005. I hope Madame Irma or any other good French cello soul can make some corrections:


Rostropovich is a glory. He is a person I have met him several times in my life over the last 25 years. He is an extremely celebrated cellist and conductor from Russia. However, the first time I met him, I was completely surprised that he invited me to have lunch with him, where we drank beer, ate and talked for a very long time. I found that quite unusual. He has many passions. He collects things, such as silverware. I likes his honors. He founded the Rostropovich Cello Competition in France and he has a foundation where he helps many musicians. He is capable of gestures of absolute generosity. Every 4 years, there is the Rostropovich Competition. Now at the age of 80 years, he is still very vital and active. There is Rostropovich the performer, the conductor, the show business. But behind that there is a very warm human being. He is a very warm person.


Let’s start by taking us back to the very beginnings of the Rostropovich Competition?

I am very interested to remember about the beginnings of the Competition. The first Competition was in 1977. I had come with my whole family chased out of the Soviet Union in 1974. The first Competition was organized, which took place in 1977 in La Rochelle. I am looking over the list of the jury members at the first Competition. There were very well-known composers, such as Lucianio Berio, Henri Dutilleux, Witold Lutoslawski and Iannis Xenakis. There were very few cellists on the jury. There was Pierre Panassou, who was my good friend to the end of his days, and also Madame Raya Garbousova. The first prize went to Luis Claret and Frédéric Lodéon, who is very well-known in France. To the present time, he is a great friend of mine! That was the first Competition.

It was French people who asked for and who organized the Competition. It was not me who organized it. All the Competitions have a single goal – to have an opportunity to find the best cellists and to enable them to flower.

However, I had another goal. Each time, we had an obligation to commission a piece of music for cello. I chose a composer, who will truly remain in history. The 8th Competition begins now. So we now have 7 pieces that have already been composed for the Competitions. We have pieces by Iannis Xenakis, Radion Chedrine, Witold Lutoslawski, Marco Stroppo, Alfred Schnittke.

You have the idea to continue to stimulate new compositions for the cello. It is almost an obsession with you, because you feel that the cello is persecuted to some degree?

Persecuted is a very good word. In my point of view, the cello is the most beautiful instrument. It has all the possibilities of the human voice. It has so many possibilities of expression. And why? It starts with the bass and it ends in a coloratura soprano. The violinists are much poorer. They have only a part of what we cellists have. They only have the feminine voice. One asks oneself why the cello up to the present time has not been as popular as the violin? When I started giving cello concerts, almost everywhere the concert halls were rarely filled with people. I was the first cellist to fill Carnegie Hall. Why was that the case? There were then many cellists of genius. The reason was the repertoire of the cello. When cellists would give a concert, the halls were often not filled with people.

Now, when one speaks of playing with an orchestra, the violinists have Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart. And we have had almost nothing. They have so many works of Mozart, yet Mozart did not write anything for the cello. I accuse the cellists of the time of Mozart. If I had lived at that time, I would be dead on the steps of the staircase in front of his house. I would sit there with a bottle of vodka, hoping he would open the door for me. Then I would try to play something to please him.

Aaron Copland in America was my friend. He never wrote anything for the cello, which he regretted. I once went to his home near New York City and I played the Suite of Britten for him. He was enchanted by it. I then asked him, “Could you write something yourself for the cello?”

Our repertoire had been very poor compared to that of violinists and pianists. Now, in this century, cellists can be proud. I admire Maurice Maréchale. I invited him to (?). Darius Milhaud wrote something for the cello. Casals contributed enormously for the cello for interpretation, but little for its repertoire. I tried to convince Stravinsky to write for the cello; but I was not successful. Very sad. But Shostakovitch wrote 2 concerti for the cello. Prokofiev wrote 3 pieces for cello. Henri Deutilleux wrote a remarkable piece – a concerto for cello and orchestra.

When one thinks of the cello, it is really the only instrument where one plays it entirely while sitting. Do you think that influences psychologically the cellist or its music in some way?

I agree with you to think about its possible psychological influence. In New York City, we organized a cello society in which Piatigorsky and others were original members. Someone asked why there is such a feeling of camaraderie among cellists, which perhaps does not exist among other instrumentalists. Piatigorsky, very seriously, said he thinks it is because we lug around an instrument that is not so easy to transport.

I love my cello. In Russian, the word for cello is feminine. I hold the cello close to my heart. In French, the word for cello is masculine. I think this is an error in the French language. The doublebass (“contrabasse” in French) is twice as long as the cello, and it is a feminine word in French. But not the cello.

Throughout my career, I tried to develop the repertoire of the cello. I believe that this is one of my accomplishments. What music we can play now! Today, people come to hear us play our music. There is no concerto of Brahms or Mozart. But today, the Tchaikovsky and Casals Competitions have great pieces to play. I feel now cellists are watching out for themselves.