A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Mstislav Rostropovich - Slava- Glory No More
Friday, April 27, 2007

Mstislav Rostropovich died today. His nickname, Slava means glory.

To this day I can remember being kissed by my father. I can even conjure his smell. It was a combination of a long forgotten aftershave of the 50s, the Player's Navy Cut tobacco he smoked and the Old Smuggler's whisky he drank. I don't allow too many men to kiss me or do I kiss them. But here are two men who caught me off guard. One twice and the other four times. And I will never forget.

When I photographed Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko (below) we found out we shared a language. I spoke my Argentine Spanish and he a fluent Cuban. We hit it off and he liked his pictures so much he kissed me, Russian style on each cheek in combination with a bear hug that almost collapsed my rib cage.

But it was Mstislav Rostropovich, above, left (called the Human Cello by Yevtushenko in his novel Don't Die Before You're Dead) who really surprised me. After a concert at the Orpheum I went to his dressing room to give him some of the photos I had taken of him. In the presence of many people he called me, "Maestro," and then proceded to kiss me twice and then again!

From "Goodbye Our Red Flag"
.. . . I didn't take the Tsar's Winter Palace.
I didn't storm Hitler's Reichstag.
I am not what you call a "Commie."
But I caress the Red Flag
and cry.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko



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