National Symphony sets tribute for Rostropovich


WASHINGTON -- The cellists of the National Symphony will open a tribute concert to cellist Mstislav "Slava" Rostropovich, the orchestra's former music director who died in his native Russia last week at 80.

The free concert, scheduled for May 19 at the Kennedy Center, will begin with an ensemble arrangement of the Sarabande from Bach's D major suite for unaccompanied cello.

The program, with music director Leonard Slatkin leading the orchestra, will include the Largo from Symphony No. 5 by Shostakovich, whom Rostropovich considered as his musical father.

Also on the program: Bernstein's overture "Slava!," which was composed to honor Rostropovich's first season with the National Symphony; and the finale from Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique" Symphony. The symphony was the last piece Rostropovich conducted in Russia before going into exile in 1974. He also placed it on the first program he would conduct in Russia in 1990, during his triumphant return with the National Symphony.

The tribute will close with a recording of Rostropovich playing the same Sarabande that opens the tribute, orchestra officials said this week.

Rostropovich, who made his name as one of the world's greatest cellists, also battled for human rights in the Soviet Union.

He was music director of the National Symphony from 1977 to 1994 and then was named conductor laureate.