I listened to Pablo Casals, which was a big change for me. Without hearing Casals, I would never have advanced as I did.
It is my aim, my destination in life to make the cello as beloved an instrument as the violin and piano.
When I started learning the cello, I fell in love with the instrument because it seemed like a voice - my voice.
The cello is a hero because of its register - its tenor voice. It is a masculine instrument, whereas the violin is feminine because of its soprano pitch. When the cello enters in the Dvorak Concerto, it is like a great orator.
I played with the best conductors of the world.
In 1948 the first severe crash occurred in my life when Stalin put out his decree on 'formalism.' There was a bulletin board in the Moscow Conservatory. They posted the decree, which said Shostakovich's compositions and Prokofiev's were no longer to be played.
Every man must have the right fearlessly to think independently and express his opinion about what he knows, what he has personally thought about and experienced, and not merely to express with slightly different variations the opinion which has been inculcated in him.
Explain to me, please, why in our literature and art so often people absolutely incompetent in this field have the final word.
People are craving this great progress in electronics, going after computers, the Internet, etc. It's a giant progress technologically. But they must have a balance of soul, a balance for human beauty. That means art has an important role.
I have a very deep religious belief.
Now I want to use money in a good way. I make foundations back home in Russia, I have sponsored vaccinations for more than one million children in my homeland and I have founded scholarships in the names of my great Russian compatriots - Oistrakh, Richter, Gilels, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Schnittke.
If I make a speech, I need a translator. But music does not need a translation. People understand me through the sound. That I think is very important. This is just one planet, like one family.