Keys to the world

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.



  1. Jennifer »

    28 February 2013 · 5:22 pm

    Wow. I love knowing that, now that I do. What a great story. And what an amazing talent.

  2. Jeffro »

    28 February 2013 · 9:51 pm

    I actually got to hear him once. He was part of the opening ceremonies before the headliner NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway. He played his grand piano on a flatbed semi that towed him down the frontstretch. Not the same as a concert for sure, but he was there and I did hear him.

    He certainly deserved all the accolades and will be missed.

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