International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival

International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival
The International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival is an annual music festival held in Azerbaijan and Russia. It is dedicated to the work and legacy of Mstislav Rostropovich, a renowned Soviet and Russian cellist and conductor who is considered to be one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century.

Mstislav Rostropovich was born in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku to parents who had moved from Orenburg, Russia. He grew up in Baku, but during the Second World War his family moved back to Orenburg and then to Moscow. At age 16, Rostropovich entered the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied cello, piano, conducting and composition.

Rostropovich came to prominence as a cellist in 1945 and won his first prize at an international competition in 1947. He formed long-standing friendships and artistic partnerships with many composers and either inspired or commissioned numerous works. British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber (the younger brother of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber) called him “probably the greatest cellist of all time”.

In 2006, Rostropovich organized a music festival in his hometown of Baku to celebrate Dmitri Shostakovich’s 100th birth anniversary. Following Rostropovich’s death in April 2007, his daughter Olga decided to continue with the festival to honor her father’s memory. That’s how the International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival was born.

The inaugural festival took place in Baku in December 2007. It was organized by the Mstislav Rostropovich Foundation, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The festival featured leading musicians from around the world, as well as up-and-comping performers who’d won a scholarship from the Rostropovich Foundation.

In 2010, the Mstislav Rostropovich Foundation launched the Moscow edition of the festival. It has been held annually ever since. In 2016, the festival was also held in Orenburg for the first time.

The program of the International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival features soloists, conductors and ensembles from around the world. For example, the participants of the 2018 Moscow Festival included the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonic Chorus of Tokyo, and the Yokohama Sinfonietta, among others.

Performances take place at a number of venues across the host city, including the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory and the Great Hall of the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow, and the Magomayev Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall and Heydar Aliyev Palace in Baku.

International Mstislav Rostropovich Festival

Photo: Mstislav Rostropovich Foundation


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