Rostropovich, Mstislav mĭs´tĭsläv˝ rŏs˝trəpô´vyĭch [key], 1927–2007, Russian cellist, pianist, and conductor. He made his cello debut in 1940 and his conducting debut in 1968, toured with the Moscow Philharmonic, and taught at the Moscow Conservatory until his friendship with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and his support for Soviet dissidents brought him into official disfavor in the early 1970s. Banned from many musical outlets, Rostropovich, his wife, the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, and their children left the Soviet Union in 1974 and settled in the United States the following year. From 1977 to 1994 he served as the musical director of the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington, D.C. He was stripped of his Soviet citizenship in 1978, but it was restored in 1990, and that year he again performed (with the National Symphony) in his motherland. After 1991, when he flew to Moscow to support Yeltsin during the August Coup , he lived in Russia, the United States, and France.
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