29 Facts About Van Cliburn


Van Cliburn developed a rich, round tone and a singing-voice-like phrasing, having been taught from the start to sing each piece.


Van Cliburn played for royalty, heads of state, and every US president from Harry S Truman to Barack Obama.


When Van Cliburn was six, his father, who worked in the oil industry, moved the family to Kilgore, Texas.


At 12, Van Cliburn won a statewide piano competition, which led to his debut with the Houston Symphony Orchestra.


Van Cliburn entered the Juilliard School in New York City at 17 and studied under Rosina Lhevinne, who trained him in the tradition of the great Russian romantics.


In 1952, Van Cliburn won the International Chopin Competition at the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York City.


At 20, Van Cliburn won the Leventritt Award and made his debut at Carnegie Hall.


Van Cliburn returned home to a ticker-tape parade in New York City, the only time the honor has been accorded a classical musician.


Van Cliburn was invited by Steve Allen to play a solo during Allen's prime time NBC television series on May 25,1958.


Van Cliburn later went to the White House to meet with President Eisenhower to discuss relations with the USSR.


Van Cliburn went on to do so for eighteen more years, his last visit to the school being in 2006.


On May 26,1972, Cliburn gave a concert at Spaso House, the residence of the United States Ambassador to Russia, for an audience that included President Richard Nixon, Secretary of State William P Rogers, and Soviet government officials.


Van Cliburn performed and recorded through the 1970s, but in 1978, after the deaths of his father and of his manager, Sol Hurok, he began a hiatus from public life.


Van Cliburn embarked on a 16-city tour in 1994, commencing with a performance of the Tchaikovsky concerto at the Hollywood Bowl.


Also in 1994, Van Cliburn made a guest appearance in the cartoon Iron Man, playing himself in the episode "Silence My Companion, Death My Destination".


Van Cliburn appeared as a Pennington Great Performers series artist with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra in 2006.


Van Cliburn played for royalty and heads of state from dozens of countries and for every US president from 1958 until his death.


Van Cliburn received the Kennedy Center Honors on December 2,2001.


Van Cliburn was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on July 23,2003, by President George W Bush, and, on September 20,2004, the Russian Order of Friendship, the highest civilian awards of the two countries.


Van Cliburn was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award the same year and played at a surprise 50th birthday party for United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.


Van Cliburn was a member of the Alpha Chi chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and was awarded the fraternity's Charles E Lutton Man of Music Award in 1962.


Van Cliburn was presented a 2010 National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama on March 2,2011.


In 1996, Van Cliburn was named in a lawsuit by his domestic partner of 17 years, mortician Thomas Zaremba.


Van Cliburn died on February 27,2013, at the age of 78.


Van Cliburn was a member of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth and attended regularly when he was in town.


Van Cliburn's services were held on March 3,2013, at the Broadway Baptist Church, with entombment at Greenwood Memorial Park Mausoleum in Fort Worth.


Van Cliburn's talents were astounding, and he had a heart that loved people and music.


Since its third cycle, the Van Cliburn has qualified to be a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions.


For many young pianists, Van Cliburn is not only a symbol of talent and inspiration, but a friend to the arts that shows how appreciation for music is powerful, and his impact on the tensions of the Cold War was certainly one of distinct and unique merit.