Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Maestro Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya founded the Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation to improve the deplorable state of children’s health care in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union. RVF conducts sustainable public health programs that have benefited nearly 20 million children, adolescents, women of childbearing age and at-risk health care workers.
Galina Vishnevskaya was internationally recognized as one of the world’s great sopranos. After starting her career at the age of 17 at the Leningrad State Operetta Theater, Mme Vishnevskaya was a leading diva at the Bolshoi Theater. She sang the great soprano roles in all of the major opera houses of the world. Galina Vishnevskaya was a Chevalier of France’s Legion of Honor and was awarded the title of People’s Artist of the USSR as well as the Order of Lenin. After leaving the stage, in addition to her work with RVF on behalf of children, Mme. Vishnevskaya founded an opera school in Moscow. Galina Vishnevskaya died on December 11, 2012 in Moscow.
Mstislav Rostropovich was recognized internationally as a consummate musician and an outspoken defender of human rights. He was Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra for 17 seasons. He was awarded honors including the Lenin Prize, Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Commander of the Legion of Honor of France, membership in the Academy of Arts of the French Institute, and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and Kennedy Center Honors. In addition to co-founding RVF, Maestro worked tirelessly on behalf of children’s health. He served on the board of the Vaccine Fund (now part of the GAVI Alliance), acted as Special Representative of UNAIDS. Maestro Rostropovich died on April 27, 2007, in Moscow.