Mstislav Rostropovich, one of the most renowned cellists and conductors of the 20th century, who led Washington's National Symphony Orchestra from 1977 to 1994, died today at age 80. His vast repertory included works specifically written for him by some of the great composers of the 20th century -- including Shostakovich's and Prokofiev's cello concertos. Rostropovich was also an outspoken crusader for cultural freedom and fought for the rights of Soviet dissidents, including Aleksander Solzhenitsyn. Under increasing pressure at home, he fled to Paris with his family in 1974. But, when the Iron Curtain collapsed Rostropovich marked the event by playing an impromptu concert of Bach cello suites among the ruins of the Berlin Wall and returned to Moscow in 1990 with the National Symphony Orchestra. Here are the NYT, WP and WSJ obituaries.