People in Russia have been given the chance to pay their respects to the renowned cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich. The body of the 80-year-old, who died on Friday, has been laid in the Moscow Conservatory ahead of a funeral on Sunday.
His own cello music echoed through the building. “He was a miraculous man,” said one of his personal friends. “He was a great man and a great musician. I call him Paganini,” he said, a reference to the Italian violinist Nioccolo Paganini. Rostropovich came to symbolise the battle for artistic freedom under Soviet rule.
While he was out of the country in 1978 the Kremlin stripped him of his citizenship for what it described as unpatriotic activity.
Citizenship was restored in 1990 under Mikhail Gorbachev. Two days after the fall of the Berlin wall, Rostropovich flew there to perform an impromptu concert.