Van Cliburn Competition marks 50 years

Posted on: February 2, 2012

Wednesday (2/1) on the Star-Telegram online (Fort Worth, Texas), Tim Madigan writes, “The famously modest pianist Van Cliburn was said to be shocked when he heard of plans to create a piano competition in his name. In 1958, Cliburn had inspired a temporary thaw in the Cold War by winning the first Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. He then enjoyed a ticker-tape parade in New York (the first and only for a classical musician) and an appearance on the Tonight Show. But still, the notion of a Van Cliburn International Piano Competition left him sheepish. ‘Don’t worry,’ his mother, Rildia Bee, told him. ‘There will be one and that will be it.’ Mrs. Cliburn could not have been more mistaken. The first Van Cliburn International Piano Competition took place in Fort Worth 50 years ago and has occurred in intervals of three and four years ever since. … On the auspicious anniversary, we take a look back at 10 Cliburn milestones.” A few of the milestones listed in the article include the addition in 1973 of a new commissioned work every year to the mandatory repertoire (the first was Aaron Copland’s Night Thoughts), James Conlon leading the Fort Worth Symphony in the finals every year beginning in 1997, and the Cliburn’s first live webcasts in 2009.

Posted February 2, 2012