Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich was a Russian cellist and conductor, born March 27, 1927, in Baku USSR. He is considered one of the greatest cellists ever. First concerts Rostropovich gave his first cello concert in 1942. From 1943 to 1948, he studied at the Moscow Conservatory, where he became professor of cello in 1956. He won first prize at the international Music Awards of Prague and Budapest in 1947, 1949 and 1950. In 1950, at the age of 23 he was awarded the Stalin Prize, then considered the highest distinction in the Soviet Union.