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Galina Vishnevskaya has died

The great soprano, widow of Mstislav Rostropovich, has been in poor health for some time. She was awarded a supreme state honour by President Putin last week. She was 86 years old.

Repports of her death appeared first in Russian state media. The French news agency, AFP, has obtained confirmation from the Vishnevskaya Singing Centre:

URGENT ¥ La chanteuse d’opéra Galina Vichnevskaïa décède à 86 ans (agences)

MOSCOU, 11 déc 2012 (AFP) – La chanteuse d’opéra Galina Vichnevskaïa, veuve du violoncelliste Mstislav Rostropovitch, est décédée mardi à l’âge de 86 ans, a indiqué le service de presse de l’école qui porte son nom.
“Elle est morte, c’est vrai”, a indiqué le Centre de chant Vichnevskaïa aux agences de presse russe, sans donner d’autres précisions.


photo: RIA Novosti/Lebrecht Music&Arts

Aside from a tempestuous career in Russia – celebrated by audiences, hounded by the KGB – she had many works written for her, most notably Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. Exiled with her outspoken husband in the 1970s, she published an excoriating memoir, Galina, of life under the hammer and sickle.

May Galina rest in peace.

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  1. Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Her (auto?)biography “Galina” is a testament to her musical life and career and her relationship with Slava. I recommend it highly to better understand this great artist. RIP, Galia.

    If you’re in Paris, please stop by 42 avenue Georges Mandel (home of Galina and Slava) and then 36 avenue Georges Mandel (final home of Maria Callas), Imagine two of the world’s greatest sopranos living a few doors from each other during the 1970s!

    • Dr. Marc Villeger says:

      Indeed, “Galina” is simply a MUST read for anyone. It is also a testament of resillience against oppression.
      A towering figure of the XX century.

    • Fred Keller says:

      Avenue Georges Mandel 36 and 42
      I did my personal pilgrimage several times.

      • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

        There is a plaque on 36 that says: “Maria Callas died here on September 16, 1977.” I am going to find out if a plaque for 42 is possible to commemorate Galina and Slava.

        BTW. the center lane of avenue Georges Mandel (now a car-park) is called L’Allée Maria Callas. They were scheduled to name Place de l’Alma after her on September 16, 1997 (20th anniversary of her death). But those plans were OBE (overtaken by events). Lady Diana was killed in the accident in the tunnel under Place de l’Alma on August 31 of that year and the good burgers of Paris decided to scrap the Callas tribute. Instead, they dedicated the central lane of avenue Georges Mandel from Trocadero to rue de la Pompe in her honor. Perhaps she can share part of it with Galina.

  2. Truly a great artist, both of music and stage. Reviled and persecuted by Breznev, honored by Putin: dictators come and go, but true disciples of the arts abide.

    • And, according to her autobiography, she was also coveted and wooed by Bulganin, when she was a young wife to Rostropovich.

      She and Slava were great artists and teachers, but their artistic genius was grounded as much on their moral courage, and willingness to risk everything to speak truth to power to defend their colleagues (including Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov) against persecution. These were principled stands and personal risks few would have been (or are) willing to take.

  3. Brian Morgan says:

    Requiescat in pace. One of my favorite singers, and one of history’s greatest singing-actresses!

  4. Such sad news.

    I still fondly remember singing in the War Requiem in Windsor Castle in 1977 when Vishnevskaya & Peter Pears were two of the soloists.

    I still have my programme with their autographs in it.

  5. Вечная память! Eternal memory! A great loss.

  6. Roger Flury says:

    A sad farewell to these great artists, Galina Vishnevskaya and Lisa Della Casa.
    I saw no mention in the media here in New Zealand, but to it’s great credit Radio New Zealand Concert have asked me to prepare memorial programmes to both artists for broadcast in February. I hope I can do justice to their memory.

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