As we were responsible for negotiating the visit of the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and the USSR State Symphony Orchestra to the BBC Proms on 21 August 1968 and subsequently to the Edinburgh Festival, we wish to point out the inaccuracies in Peter Haydn Pike’s letter (September). We were present at the concert, sitting next to the BBC controller of music, the late Sir William Glock. In view of the Soviet invasion into Prague, we were all expecting serious trouble, but there was absolutely no interruption during Rostropovich’s emotionally charged performance of the Dvo ák Cello Concerto, no ‘catcalls’ to drown out the Shostakovich symphony, and the concert was broadcast in full. Only one incident occurred, when two students left the hall shouting ‘Viva Casals’ as Rostropovich appeared on the stage (they later apologised to him by letter). Nor was it true that the orchestra did not go to the Edinburgh Festival, but immediately returned to Russia. In fact, we travelled with them to Edinburgh. Again, there were no interruptions during the performance. A group of demonstrators stood outside the Usher Hall, carrying a placard saying: ‘We love your music but we hate your tanks’.
No hitches: was Slava’s 1968 visit incident free?