Van Cliburn Competition continues without its namesake

Posted on: May 21, 2013

In Sunday’s (5/19) Fort Worth Star-Telegraph (Texas), Tim Madigan writes, “The drama traditionally has begun a few days before the opening performance of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, when the young competitors first convene in Fort Worth. At what is known as the draw party, the artists pick numbers from a chalice to determine the playing order in the preliminary round. … That party was when the young musicians from around the world were swept into Van Cliburn’s famous embrace. He hugged them and visited briefly with each, making each starry-eyed competitor feel as if he or she were the most interesting person in the world. … That personal warmth, as much as Cliburn’s legendary career at the keyboard, explains the widespread wistfulness as the 14th Cliburn competition approaches, beginning Friday at Bass Hall. Cliburn died Feb. 27 at age 78 after a battle with bone cancer, so for the first time since the debut competition in 1962, Fort Worth’s premier cultural event will go on without him. … Not that the competition, regarded as one of the world’s finest, is likely to see much change, at least practically speaking. Cliburn had no administrative duties and no part in determining the winners and losers. … But while recalling Cliburn and his competition, friends most often remembered his famous empathy with the competitors.”

Posted May 21, 2013