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Van Cliburn Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trivia (5)

Overview (4)

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
Died in Fort Worth, Texas, USA  (bone cancer)
Birth NameHarvey Lavan Cliburn Jr.
Height 6' 4" (1.93 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Van Cliburn was born Harvey Lavan Cliburn, Jr. on July 12, 1934, in Shreveport, Louisiana, USA. His mother, named Rildia Bee O'Bryan, had been taught piano by Arthur Friedheim, a pupil of Franz Liszt. Cliburn began taking piano lessons at the age of three from his mother, who was strict and demanded perfection. At the age of twelve Cliburn won a piano competition in Texas and made his debut with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. At the age of twenty he made his debut at Carnegie Hall.

In 1958 Cliburn won the First International Tshaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. There he played the Piano Concerto No. 1 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and the Piano Concerto No. 3 by Sergei Rachmaninoff in his triumphal competition finale performances. Cliburn's mastery of piano was so convincing that even Nikita Khrushchev agreed, when the Soviet judges asked him for permission to give the first prize to an American. Cliburn was on the cover of TIME as "The Texan Who Conquered Russia." He made a fine recording of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, which became the best-selling classical album, eventually going triple platinum. Cliburn also recorded the music of Edvard Grieg, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Ludwig van Beethoven among other composers.

Since 1962 Van Cliburn has been the artistic advisor for the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas. Its international prestige now rivals that of the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition. Cliburn made appearances at such important political events, as the 1987 White House meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. In 1991 Cliburn performed at the opening of the 100th Anniversary season of Carnegie Hall. In 2003 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 2004 received the Russian Order of Friendship. He has played piano music for royalty, heads of states, and for every President of the United States since Harry S. Truman. Van Cliburn is living in Fort Worth, Texas. He is a Steinway artist. He owns a collection of Steinway pianos that are tuned-up to accommodate his individual touch and style.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Trivia (5)

Van Cliburn received the John F. Kennedy Center Honors in 2001.
In the early days of the Cold War, in 1958, Cliburn became the first American to win the Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, in Moscow.
He was awarded the 2010 National Medal of Arts for his contributions as a pianist in the history of music, and as an ambassador for American culture. Since his historic 1958 victory at the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, he has reached across political frontiers with the universal message of beautiful music.
His publicist was his close friend, Mary Lou Falcone.

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