ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Van Cliburn

Updated on August 20, 2014

Van Cliburn first broke onto the music scene when he won the first Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. He was ten years older than I, almost to the day, and by that time I was quite aware of his success at the time. I think he was the ONLY musician I ever had a real fan-crush on. I can't say I went crazy-wild about him, but I certainly took a special interest in him. I was absolutely thrilled he won the competition! The fact that he was also a Christian only added to my excitement!

Not long after that, word got around that he had bought a home in Tucson, Arizona, which was rumored to be located near the place I lived at the time. There was a beautiful large home not far from mine, on a big lot with lots of neat wild cactus, and I was absolutely sure this was where he lived. So one day a friend of mine and I walked over there. We couldn't see anybody. I also walked over and watched from time to time to see if I could catch a glimpse of him. I never saw anybody at all, near that house.

Some time later, I saw a picture of the scene out of his living room window. I saw quickly that his living room window view was of the city, obviously from somewhere in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains. Not close to me at all! Oh well! (Listen closely, and you can hear my laughter from where you sit.)

I think the major reason he appealed to me so much is because he had become what I hoped to become someday myself. The problem was, I could never have devoted myself to practicing 8 hours a day like you have to, in order to achieve that level of success. In retrospect, I also don't mind not having to deal with groupies, the grueling travel schedule, and just the general lifestyle of a performing artist.

Not too long after that, he suddenly disappeared from the public eye. The story as I understand it was that he didn't have a very large repertoire, and he went off to learn a lot of new music. And indeed, he did. He made a number of recordings after he returned to the public eye.

His web site: http://www.cliburn.org/

Here is an excellent article about him on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Cliburn

Wikipedia says, of Van Cliburn's win:

"When it was time to announce a winner, the judges were obliged to ask permission of the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to give first prize to an American. "Is he the best?" Khrushchev asked. "Then give him the prize!" Cliburn returned home to a ticker-tape parade in New York City, the only time the honor has been accorded a classical musician."

From this article, I learned something I never knew before. Apparently he played the Rachmaninoff 3rd Piano Concerto at that competition as well. That is said to be one of the most difficult piano concertos ever written. I have my own opinion about that. It doesn't sound appreciably more difficult than any of the other Rachmaninoff concertos. I have actually read Piano Concerto No. 2 (involving playing from the music, on the piano, very sloooowwwwly). And when I was in college, my piano professor assigned me the second movement, though I never really did much with it. I actually don't care for the 3rd as much as for the 2nd. In any case, the most difficult thing for me stems from the fact that Rachmaninoff had huge hands. This means that some of his chords (including the opening chords in the 2nd concerto), are greater than an octave, in this case, a 10th. And I can barely reach them, and certainly cannot play them with any authority. Some people play the bottom note as a grace note. I refuse to do that. It doesn't sound right.

Later, as he experienced prosperity. Van Cliburn established a foundation which now hosts its own piano competition. And the Russians have won at least once that I know about. Turn about is fair play!

This recording is of his performance of the Tchaikovsky 1st, recorded shortly after his triumph in Moscow, combined with a recording of the Rachmaninoff 2nd, which is undoubtedly my FAVORITE piano concerto ever, so it is certainly a favorite recording of mine, and I highly recommend it.

Van Cliburn has gone Home to be with the Lord. I miss him simply because I can imagine all the treasures he had yet to record, which I would have enjoyed immensely. I look forward to meeting him in person, something I was never able to do in this lifetime.

Are you familiar with Van Cliburn?

See results

Thoughts on Van Cliburn, piano concertos, classical music, or any other relevant thing most welcome.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Pat Goltz profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Goltz 

      4 years ago

      @ecogranny: Thank you. I remember well how popular he was at the time.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      4 years ago from San Francisco

      Funny how legends stick in our minds with erroneous information. I always thought he was fifteen when he won that Russian competition, so I had to go and look it up. He was in his early twenties, still a marvelous achievement. An icon of my youth, Van Cliburn was so appealing, that he appeared on many of the variety shows so popular in the sixties.

      Thanks for an excellent review.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)