My late and ex-husband had no passion greater than his passion for music, and one day, while we were still courting, he was walking along past the Kennedy Center when a cab rolled up to the curb in front of the Hall of Nations. Mstislav Rostropovich alit, carrying a hefty briefcase and attired in an overcoat against the first brisk nip of autumn. A nervy fellow, my late and ex accosted the maestro by the name all of musical Washington used when they celebrated him in those days: “Slava!” he cried, raising both hands, “thank you for all the wonderful music you’ve brought us!”
(We used to buy five-dollar tickets for the nosebleed seats in the Kennedy Center, where I once stripped to my camisole during a performance of Mahler’s First Symphony due to the suffocating heat up there. Not that this was mentioned.)
Slava beamed at my then-fiance, leaned close to shake his hand while saluting him, French-style, on both cheeks, and swept on into the building.
“I’m never washing my face again,” said my L&X as he told me the story.
I just caught a bit on the local classical station about Rostropovich’s connection to Sergei Prokofiev: to wit: a devotee of Prokofiev’s ballets, Rostropovich eventually made his personal acquaintance and for the last three years of Prokofiev’s life — just before I was born — lived with him at his dacha, “like a son,” assisting him, as Percy Grainger did Delius, in the work of composition.
I slept in the same bed for eight years of my life with a man who touched a man who knew Sergei Prokofiev.
How’s that for even less than six degrees of separation?