The Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter died in his dacha outside Moscow on August 1, 1997. No one could ever have thought of this peerless artist as a dissident within his own country in the manner of Solzhenitsyn or Mstislav Rostropovich. Neither could one think of him or his wildly individualistic behavior during the darkest days of Stalin as anything but a special example of how art could triumph over the most crushing of political repressions. He earned his unparalleled personal freedom within the cultural politics of the Soviet system all right, but at a price—no visas for concerts abroad were allowed until 1959, when he was permitted a short tour of Finland. A debut at Carnegie Hall and an American tour began what was to be a regime of off-and-on summer exiles in France, Italy, and Germany, though he was still most assiduous in giving concerts to his countrymen in remotest Eastern Russia during whirlwind tours, since he felt...

 

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