Tuesday, August 16, 2011


My sister Angie commented on my last post, "The most moving image of November 1989 for me was Rostropovich playing the cello, surrounded by the rubble of the just-demolished Berlin wall."

I had not seen that impromptu performance, nor even heard of it, but of course YouTube had!

Note: The end of the video shows West Berlin Mayor and future Chancellor Willy Brandt making his way through the crowd and joining an East German official atop the Wall.
In an interview in the last year-and-a-half of his life, Rostropovich told a French newspaper reporter:
"When in 1989 I saw on television that the Berlin Wall was being torn down, I took the first plane to go play there. When the taxi left us out in front of the ex-Berlin Wall, I realized that I needed a chair. I went to knock on the door of a house, and someone recognized me. Within 10 minutes, there was a little crowd, and a television crew came passing by. I played the most joyous Bach Suites for solo cello in order to celebrate the event. But I could not forget all those who had lost their lives on this wall in trying to cross over it. Hence, I played the Sarabande of Bach's 2nd Suite in their memory, and I noticed a young man crying."

I enjoyed reading this BBC report about Rostropovich's death at age 80 in 2007.  He was quite the man.  The opportunity to see his grave in Moscow's Novodevichy Cemetery means even more to me now.

That's the interesting thing about education.  You learn or experience one little thing, and then along comes another piece of information or another experience that builds on and enriches that first piece, and pretty soon a minor curiosity has grown into something of importance or significance in your life, and you start to be more aware of what you might have otherwise overlooked.

Thank you, Angie, for adding another piece!


  1. He directed the National Symphony Orchestra during the years I lived near Washington D.C., and was so beloved by the people. I saw him direct and heard him play many times. Thanks for sharing this great memory, Judy.

  2. I enjoyed this piece of music this morning, right after grading and reading emails from my students. Inspiring to me to think about education this way--as pieces of a grander puzzle. Thanks for the post!