Van Cliburn, R.I.P.

The great classical pianist Van Cliburn has died at the age of 78. He became an American icon and cold war hero without firing a shot:

In April 1958, Mr. Cliburn went to Moscow at the height of the Cold
War and brought home the gold medal in the new Tchaikovsky International
Piano Competition for his rendition of the composer’s Concerto No. 1.
The contest had been established to showcase the Russian superiority in
culture, a mere six months after the scientific triumph of launching
Sputnik, the first space satellite.

Mr. Cliburn’s performance —
the crystalline touch, the welling songfulness — prompted an
eight-minute standing ovation. But such were the political tensions of
the time, the judges of the competition checked with Soviet Premier
Nikita Khrushchev before announcing their decision to give the prize to a
non-Soviet musician.

“Is he the best?” Khrushchev is said to have replied. “Then give him the prize!”

And Nikita knew from long-hair music. Maybe not, he was a short, squat and bald prole after all…

Here’s Van the man tickling the ivories:

7 thoughts on “Van Cliburn, R.I.P.

  1. A great music maker.
    Adrastos, back to the Duck Dynasty boys…
    Phil Robertsonn, founder of said Dynasty, once was starting quarterback for a certain Ruston, LA-based college football team. He preferred hunting in the fall, so he quit, so sez local legend.
    Who too his place at QB?

  2. Exactamundo, Fonzi. So they’re both jagging off on the teevee machine for shitpots of money!
    I need to find such a job…

  3. What a pianist! What a man! Van Cliburn was a true American Icon. Much loved both in the USA and the Soviet Union, later Rusia.

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