Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Van Cliburn dies at age 78.

I will never forget when back in  2003 (or maybe 2004) I had the chance to hear and meet the great American pianist Van Cliburn. 

Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn, Jr., was an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958 at the age of twenty-three, when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War.  I was only 10 years old at the time, but I remember clearly the news that this huge event elicited. 

Back then, all the truly outstanding pianists in the world were Russian.  Then, in 1958, this long, tall Texas arrived and blew the competition out of the water.  If he had NOT won the competition, the world would have been crying "foul".

Fast forward to 2003 and the dedication of our new concert hall at the university.  Our Steinway D was in place and it needed only a spectacular pair of hands to introduce it to the surrounding community in a first public performance.  What a happy night it was.  I was so happy, I couldn't stop smiling.  I was sure my face was going to break with the joy of it.  For several years afterwards, through 2010, I would look at that piano with fond memories and look at the spot where he signed it on the inside.

Now this stellar talent is a part of history in the last way possible.  Once he made history.  Now he is history.  Rest in Peace, Van.  We will always remember you with love in our hearts.


Ginny said...

I hadn't known this, but you are so lucky to have this memory!!! What did he die from?

Felisol said...

Life on earth is such a short fragile moment. How lucky you were to actually meet the famous pianist.
How lucky he was to touch and enhance the very soul of his audience.
Where the words loose power, the music starts.
Fine tribute to a great artist.

Pam said...

You look so happy and beautiful in this lovely photo Annie. RIP to a great talent and astounding musician.

Annie said...

Ginny, he was taken from us by bone cancer.

Janet said...

You look beautiful in the photo...I remember Van Cliburn from when I was a much younger. Definitely a very talented man.

Jeanie said...

Oh, annie, what a special memory. And you look so very lovely. What a gifted man. I met him at a PBS meeting and he struck me as genuinely humble. The winner of the first International Van Cliburn competition lives in our community. I'm sure he has many stories to tell (he was in the PBS documentary 50 Years of Gold about the Cliburn competition.)If you didn't see that fascinating doc you can watch it online here:

I'm so glad you have this special memory.

see you there! said...

I remember hearing him play but never in person. What a great memory you have. I always feel sad when the world looses and artist.


Stephanie said...

How marvelous to have heard him play in person and to have met look radiant!


Barbara said...

Weddings and books and birds and what sounds like a great pianist although I have not heard of him this side of the pond.
I am going to show my ignorance and ask what Haiku means?

Annie said...

Hi Barbara - A Haiku is Japanese lyric verse form having three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables, traditionally invoking an aspect of nature or the seasons.