From our perhaps-jaded post-Soviet perspective, we might be tempted to describe Van Cliburn, who died yesterday at his home in Fort Worth, as some sort of Cold Warrior. Not so, as this PBS news clip makes clear:
I mean, the judges at that first International Tchaikovsky Competition were faced with having to give the top prize to an American, and worse, an American who’d just gotten eight minutes’ worth of standing ovation from delighted Muscovites. What to do? They asked Khrushchev, and Khrushchev said “Is he the best? Then give him the prize.”
He earned rather a lot of prizes after that.