Summer 1997 (5.2)
This past April, the world-renowned conductor and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich came home to Baku to celebrate his 70th birthday. Rostropovich was born in Baku, but had spent most of his professional life in Moscow. In 1974, he defected from the Soviet Union and has lived in the U.S. and Paris ever since.
On this trip to what he called
"the mystical city of Baku," he was accompanied by
his wife, Galina Pavlovna Vishnevskaya, their two daughters and
grandchildren. "I want my grandchildren to know that their
roots are in Baku," he said.
President Heydar Aliyev presented Rostropovich with Azerbaijan's highest honor, the Order of Glory. Plans are being made to name one of Baku's music schools after him and to establish music scholarships in his name. His former residence will be converted into a museum and a marble plaque erected outside the building.
Rostropovich was concerned about the unresolved 8-year-old Karabakh conflict and offered to play for the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan for as long as it took to settle the long dispute.
In March Rostropovich was also
feted by French President Jacques Chirac at a celebration in
Paris that President Aliyev attended. In May he visited Moscow
and President Boris Yeltsin also presented him with Russia's
highest state award.