Something There is That Doesn’t Love a Wall: Mstislav Rostropovich Plays Bach Cello Suites During the Fall of the Berlin Wall 1989

– Stasov

When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, human rights champion Mstislav Rostropovich  (1927-2007) created his own wall of sound with an impromptu performance of Bach cello suites at Checkpoint Charlie, the policed passage between the divided East and West.  The beloved cellist was an international symbol of fearless artistic conscience.  He had been exiled, stripped of his citizenship and personhood by the USSR for defiantly sheltering the dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and for speaking out against censorship and oppression in the arts.

Two years later, Rostropovich must have made quite a picture standing guard in front of elected President Boris Yeltsin’s office, wielding an AK47 assault rifle for a few hours in place of his cello during the crisis brought on by the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Rare footage of the historic moment of Rostropovich playing Bach while the Wall came down:
Courtesy of  and YouTube

Rostropovich demonstrates his phenomenal artistic gifts:
Courtesy of 

Rostropovich performs Shostakovich with fire and fury:

If you have time to spare, a thrilling 2 hour concert of incomparable Beethoven with Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter in their prime:
Courtesy of 

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