VoA – News
Wednesday 27th February, 2013
Internationally celebrated American pianist Van Cliburn, whose triumph at a 1958 Moscow competition helped ease Cold War tensions, has died at age 78.
Cliburn died early Wednesday at his Fort Worth, Texas home after a battle with bone cancer.
Only 23 when he competed at the renowned Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, his win launched a spectacular career that made him the rare classical musician to enjoy rock star-like status.
The win also proved the power of the arts, despite East-West tensions, and Cliburn became a hero to music-loving Soviets. He triumphantly returned to America in a New York City ticker-tape parade.
Cliburn spent the rest of his career performing world tours and recording numerous albums. In addition, he fostered the careers of young artists by creating several scholarship programs and establishing the Van Cliburn international music competition.
Until recently, Cliburn practiced daily and performed limited engagements. He made his last public appearance in September at the 50th anniversary of the prestigious piano competition named for him.
President Barack Obama presents a 2010 National Medal of Arts to pianist Van Cliburn, March 2, 2011, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. x President Barack Obama presents a 2010 National Medal of Arts to pianist Van Cliburn, March 2, 2011, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. President George W. Bush presented Cliburn with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2003.
In 2004, he received the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
President Barack Obama presented him with a National Medal of Arts in 2010.
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