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Cliburn, Van (actually, Harvey Lavan Jr

soloist appeared music competition

Cliburn, Van (actually, Harvey Lavan Jr brilliant American pianist; b. Shreveport, La., July 12, 1934. His mother, Rildia Bee Cliburn, a pupil of Arthur Friedheim, was his only teacher until 1951, when he entered the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. as a student of Rosina Lhévinne, graduating in 1954. He was four when he made his first public appearance in Shreveport; after winning the Tex. State Prize in 1947, he appeared as a soloist with the Houston Sym. Orch. In 1948 he won the National Music Festival Award, in 1952 the Dealy Award and the Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin prize, in 1953 the Juilliard School of Music concerto competition, and in 1954 the Roeder Award and the Leventritt competition in N.Y.; that same year he appeared as a soloist with the N.Y. Phil. In 1958 he captured first prize at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the first American to achieve this feat; upon his return to N.Y., he received a hero’s welcome in a ticker–tape parade. In subsequent years he toured extensively, appearing as a soloist with leading orchs. and as a recitalist. In 1978 he withdrew from public performances, but appeared again in 1987 as a recitalist in a concert for President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev at the White House in Washington, D.C. In 1989 he appeared as soloist in the Liszt and Tchaikovsky first piano concertos with the Philadelphia Orch.; that same year he accepted Gorbachev’s invitation to perform in Moscow, and on Sept. 8 was the soloist with Eduardo Mata and the Dallas Sym. Orch. in the gala opening of the Morton H. Meyerson Sym. Center. In the summer of 1994 he toured the U.S. as soloist with the Moscow Phil. Van Cliburn’s playing combines a superlative technique with a genuine Romantic sentiment, particularly effective in the music of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was organized in 1962 and is held quadrennially in Fort Worth, Tex., the home of the Van Cliburn Foundation.

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