Russia paid its final farewell to one of the most talented pianists of the 20th century on Monday.
Hundreds of Muscovites as well as government officials, including Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, paid their respects to Svyatoslav Richter as he lay in state at the Pushkin Museum.
The 82-year-old pianist died of a heart attack on Friday in Moscow's central clinic and will be buried later on Monday, at the Novodevichy Cemetery, Russia's most prestigious burial ground.
Richter is considered to be one of the greatest pianists of his time and Russian President, Boris Yeltsin called Richter "one of Russia's most cherished sons" in a telegram he sent to the pianist's family.
Hundreds of Russian musicians and ordinary citizens passed through a darkened hall of a Moscow art museum, on Monday, saying their own personal farewells.
They had come to pay their last respects to one of the century's greatest pianists, Svyatoslav Richter.
As recordings of Richter's performances played, mourners quietly placed white roses and red carnations next to his open coffin during the service at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Art, one of the country's top museums.
A captivating concert-hall performer, he was known for his brilliant technique and a repertoire that included practically all styles, from Bach to Debussy and from Prokofiev to Shostakovich.
He became the Soviet Union's leading pianist in the 1940s and toured the world's stages in the 1950s.
An inspiration for many, Richter's death leaves a vacuum which many believe will be impossible to fill.
"Now we are at a very big vacuum and I'm not sure that nature will give a person very soon like Svyatoslav Richter. Now we are like orphans."
SUPER CAPTION: Nikolai Petrov, Pianist
Others grew up with his music and paid tribute to his genius.
"He represented a whole generation. People of my era, starting when we were students and running after cheap tickets to now when we are already getting old , all our musical life has been tied to Richter."
SUPER CAPTION: Vyacheslav Kostikov, Former Presidential Spokesman
Russia's Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin was among those attending, and he called Richter 'a great artist' whose death was 'a big loss, a great loss.'
Born March 20, 1915, in Zhitomir, Ukraine, Richter learned music from his father, a pianist and organ player.
He received his first award in 1945 at the 3rd All-Union Competition of Concert Pianists.
Among his many other awards Richter was named a People's Artist of the U-S-S-R, the highest Soviet honour for a performing artist, in 1961.
Although Richter lived in Paris during the last years of his life he came back to Moscow for a final visit of his motherland.
He will be laid to rest later on Monday at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.
Richter is survived by his widow, Nina Lvovna Dorliak.
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