Rostropovich Again Hospitalized in Moscow, Reportedly Has Second Operation

Classic Arts News   Rostropovich Again Hospitalized in Moscow, Reportedly Has Second Operation
For the second time in two weeks, world-renowned cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich has been taken to the hospital from the suburban Moscow sanatorium where he had been recuperating from liver surgery.

The news agency RIA-Novosti quotes an official of the Vishnevskaya Opera Center as saying that the maestro was returned to the hospital last week due to a sudden worsening of his condition. (The Center was founded and is directed by the retired soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, Rostropovich's wife.) Confirming this report, Pravda quotes Tatiana Zagrekova, the secretary of the Rostropovich Foundation in Moscow, as saying, "Mstislav Leopoldovich is again in the hospital — the same one where he was before."

Rostropovich spent about a month in a Moscow hospital in February and early March. While his Russian spokesperson, Natalia Dollezhal, repeatedly declined to discuss his exact whereabouts or prognosis, several local news outlets reported at the time that he was in the Blokhin Center, the country's leading cancer clinic, where doctors removed a tumor from his liver.

Upon his release in early March, Rostropovich went to a sanatorium in the well-to-do Moscow suburb of Barvikha for rehabilitation. (At that point, Dollezhal did acknowledge that the maestro had undergone "a complicated liver operation.") Until early this month, he had been there ever since, except for his 80th birthday celebration, hosted by President Vladimir Putin, at the Kremlin. (Press reports described Rostropovich as looking pale and weak.)

On April 10, the maestro was rushed to the hospital; he returned to the sanatorium a couple of days later.

The newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, which has consistently reported more (and more troubling) details about Rostropovich's condition than other outlets, published an article on April 17 saying that he had been rushed back to the Blokhin Center in critical condition for more surgery, following serious problems with his liver and colon. Dr. Hans-Joachim Schmoll, a world-renowned oncologist from Martin Luther University in Halle, Germany, flew in for consultations with the Blokhin Center's director, Mikhail Davydov, and other experts; according to the paper; they decided that "it was impossible to avoid" another operation. The maestro's condition is reportedly serious enough that doctors will offer no prognosis.

News of Rostropovich's health problems first surfaced last fall, when he cancelled a planned series of Shostakovich centennial concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington (of which he is Conductor Laureate). He was subsequently able to conduct a couple of concerts in Paris in November, but reportedly fell seriously ill while visiting the Russian city of Voronezh in December and spent the New Year's holiday in Moscow's Central Hospital. While in Paris in early February, he was rushed to a hospital, but promptly checked himself out and returned to the Russian capital, where his current series of treatments began.

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