The world’s leading violist talks rockstar aspirations, “divorce” from his own group and bouncing back.

You turned 60 this year, and it’s also the 21st birthday of your ensemble the Moscow Soloists. Are those anniversaries meaningful? Has your outlook changed?

Everything changes in life. When I started playing music I lived in a different country. It was the Soviet Union and now it’s Russia – but for me it was always just home. What’s changed me most are the people I’ve met. I’m very proud and honoured to have played with amazing people like Sviatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich, Gidon Kremer, Anne- Sophie Mutter and Isaac Stern – not to mention my close friend Valery Gergiev. The life of a musician is all about these meetings.

Did they give you any advice you’ve taken to heart throughout your career?

I remember once I was very upset about a review for one of my concerts, and Rostropovich said, “You know, what these critics say doesn’t matter, Yuri. Just be thankful they spelled your name right!”

And in turn you’re now involved in passing on your skills to younger musicians.

Yes, this is very important. In the Soviet Union we used to have the best system...