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.
My mother carried me for 10 months. I asked her 'Mother, you had an extra month, why you didn't make me a beautiful face?' and mother told me, 'My son, I was busy making your beautiful hands and heart.'
Now I come to 75 years of age, I think what's most important in life is your conscience. If you told a lie and made other people suffer, I think that's very difficult when you reach this age.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Of course, I know everything that happens in Russia. But even at the most dangerous moment or the most negative moment now, it's still 10 times better than what it was in the communist state.
Baalbek is so beautiful. It is the heart of beauty in the Middle East - I want to embrace these people with my music. I will try so hard for them. Their president is a Christian, their prime minister is a Muslim. Music is for everyone.
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.
I know that after my letter there will be undoubtedly an 'opinion' about me, but I am not afraid of it. I openly say what I think. Talent, of which we are proud, must not be submitted to the assaults of the past.