27 February 2013 10:50 AM, PST | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

Van Cliburn, the internationally renowned American cultural ambassador and one of the greatest pianists in the history of music, died at his Fort Worth, Texas, home on Wednesday. He was 78 and had been suffering from advanced bone cancer first diagnosed in mid-August 2012. Having played for royalty, heads of state and every American President since Harry Truman, Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr., the Shreveport, Louisiana-born son of an oil industry executive, began taking piano lessons from his mother Rildia when he was 3. She remained his teacher for the next 17 years. The family moved to Texas when the prodigy was 6, and he debuted »


- Stephen M. Silverman

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