Rostropovich told the paper that the premiere of Krzystof Penderecki's Largo for Cello and Orchestra in Vienna last June was "my last premiere and also my last public appearance at all as a cellist."
The 79-year-old musician added that he wasn't sad about giving up performing, because his "marriage" to the instrument wasn't over. "A marriage does not take place only in public," he said. "It also has its intimate moments. Of course, here at home I get my cello out again, because I miss it so badly. And then I play only for me."
Rostropovich said that he would continue to maintain an active schedule as a conductor, noting that he was completely booked for the next two years.
Born in Azerbaijan, Rostropovich studied at the Moscow Conservatory and emerged as a star in the late 1940s. Among the many major works he has premiered are Prokofiev's Cello Concerto No. 2, Shostakovich's two concertos, and Britten's Cello Symphony.