American classical pianist Van Cliburn has died at the age of 78.
Cliburn passed away on February 27 at his home in Texas after suffering from bone cancer.
At age 23, Cliburn was the surprise winner of the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958 — six months after the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, embarrassed the United States.
His performance at the finale led to an eight-minute standing ovation, and he returned to a New York ticker-tape parade, a first for a classical musician.
Cliburn’s recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Russian conductor Kirill Kondrashin, released in 1958, became the first classical album to reach platinum status.