† Van Cliburn
The artistic breakthrough of the pianist Van Cliburn came in 1958 when he won the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in his early 20s. It was also a political sensation, coming as it did in the midst of the Cold War, and his recording of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto later sold millions of copies.
Van CliburnVan Cliburn had begun to play the piano at the age of four and later attended the famous Juilliard School in New York. After Moscow he was soon invited to the world’s big concert halls, as for example in 1964 to give a solo recital at the Salzburg Festival (his one and only ever performance there).
C 841 111 BThere, as ever, he demonstrated a fully developed technique and a unique art of interpretation, offering an impetuous programme that ranged from Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata via Chopin’s b-minor Sonata op. 58 to the less well-known Sonata op. 26 by Samuel Barber. Two years before his Salzburg debut, Van Cliburn had organized the first “Van Cliburn International Piano Competition” in Fort Worth in Texas, which has since become an important first step in the career of many young pianists. Van Cliburn performed less in public from the 1970s onwards, but occasionally returned to the limelight and in 2003 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the USA’s highest civilian honour. He died in Fort Worth on 27 February 2013.