Friday, March 1, 2013

Fort Worth Friday

Today, instead of a location, I'm going to talk about a person....

Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn Jr....

You see, he died on Wednesday...

And who is this Van Cliburn, you ask. Well, he was a really famous classical pianist and he lived here in Fort Worth. Not just a local celebrity, but a great international name in the classical music world.

(This image from Wiki Commons and is allowed to be used if I agree to attribute So there it is.)

You see, at the age of 23 in 1958 during the Cold War, Mr. Cliburn won the very first International Tchaikovsky Competition--an event designed to demonstrate Soviet cultural superiority.

His subsequent recording of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 became the first classical album to go platinum. It was the best-selling classical album in the world for more than a decade, eventually going triple-platinum. He is also the only classical pianist to ever receive a Ticker Tape parade in New York City.

In celebration of his victory in Moscow, The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was organized by a group of music teachers and Fort Worth citizens in 1962. It quickly became one of the world's most important and renown piano competitions. For more info on the competition, click here.

A section of street in our Cultural District was re-named Van Cliburn Way at some point.

(borrowed with permission of Wiki Commons)

And here, for your listening pleasure, is Van Cliburn playing his most famous piece: Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, which I'm sure you have all heard at some point. And I do believe this is his original performance in Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory in April 1958. The Soviet Union's new Premier, at the time, Nikita Khrushchev, was in the audience. They even asked Mr. Khrushchev's permission to give an American the award.

Mr. Cliburn was 78 and had been diagnosed with bone cancer in the fall of 2012. May he rest in peace.


Regina Richards said...

Not only was he incredibly talented man, he was also a person of class, nobility, and humility. Every interview he gave made it clear he was a kind-hearted genius. Thank you Mr. Cliburn for sharing your gift and inspiring countless people in and out of the music world.

And God Bless your mother who believed and believed and believed.

Unknown said...

A nice post in memory of a great artist.

Jen FitzGerald said...

Thanks for reading, Ladies.