Rostropovich fought for art without borders, freedom of speech and democratic values, resulting in a reprimand from the Soviet regime. His friendship with Alexander Solzhenitsyn and his support for dissidents led to official disgrace in the early 1970s. He was banned from several musical ensembles and his Soviet citizenship was revoked in 1978 because of his public opposition to the Soviet Union's restriction of cultural freedom. Rostropovich left the Soviet Union in 1974 with his wife and children and settled in the United States.
His impromptu performance during the Fall of the Berlin Wall as events unfolded earned him international fame and was shown on television throughout the world.