Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Van the Man

One of the neatest things about Van Cliburn, the celebrated pianist who died Wednesday at 78, was that he was from Kilgore, Texas. He was born in Louisiana but grew up in Texas, a reality the sometimes coastally snobbish classical music world had to deal with every time he would entertain with his skill and heart.

The other neat thing (and probably the top neatest thing, to be honest) was the Van Cliburn competition, an international piano contest that featured and awarded some of the best up-and-coming classical pianists in the world. Cliburn himself rose to fame as a 23-year-old winner of an international music contest held in Moscow in 1958, and his competition served as a great way to ensure that the music he loved could continue to be performed and loved by gifted and talented artists long after he passed from the scene.

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