Mstislav Rostropovich gave an impromptu concert at Checkpoint Charlie after the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989.
Listen to an excerpt from Rostropovich's performance of Bach's Suite No. 1 in G Major: I. Prelude
Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich has died. He will be remembered for his music and his brave efforts to keep the arts free from censorship and tyranny. This story from the Los Angeles Times is particularly poignant:
"In July 1991, Rostropovich performed a concert in Prague to fulfill his 1968 promise to play there when the last Soviet soldier left Czechoslovakia. A month later, when he heard that hard-liners had put vacationing Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev under house arrest, seized power in Moscow and surrounded Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin in the republic Parliament building, Rostropovich, at considerable personal danger, raced from Paris to Moscow, sweet-talking his way past KGB guards at the airport, to stand by Yeltsin's side.
"There was no storming of the Parliament building for one reason," a Russian youth told Rostropovich, according to the London Sunday Times, shortly after the crowd toppled a statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the KGB. "Because you were with us."