I just read the news in the Washington Post that the great concert pianist, Van Cliburn, passed away today. He was 78.
One of the first things that influenced me to take up music was listening to my Dad’s long playing vinyl record of Van Cliburn performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor. I don’t know how old I was, but I had already been taking piano lessons since age 5, so I’m guessing I must’ve been around 9 years old.
I have visual memories of watching the record spinning on my Dad’s magnavox stereo, which in those days were pieces of furniture rather than components.
Van Cliburn was the first American pianist to win the prestigious Tchaikovsky piano competition in Moscow in 1958, and back then (during the Cold War Era) it was a major triumph and there was a ticker tape parade in his honor and he became the most celebrated American pianist of his generation.
Rest in Peace, Van Cliburn. Thank you for playing the piano so beautifully and with so much passion!