Wednesday, February 27

The Texan who conquered Russia

Molly and I are mourning the loss of concert pianist Van Cliburn, who died Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 at the age of 78.

Cliburn was 23 when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War in 1958.

At the age of 3, he began piano studies with his mother, a talented student of Arthur Friedheim, who was a pupil of Franz Liszt. He was born in Louisiana but moved to Texas where Molly was lucky enough to hear him while flying with her Aunt Eleanor.

Cliburn toured everywhere and played for royalty and heads of state, as well as for every president from Eisenhower to Obama. He was also the first classical recording artist to have an album sell 1,000,000 copies.

R.I.P. Van Cliburn. The music in heaven got even better.

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