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Van Cliburn

Pianist Van Cliburn was arguably the most celebrated classical performer of the modern era, renowned for his flawless technical prowess and unparalleled romantic sensibility. Born Harvey Lavan Cliburn, Jr. in Shreveport, Louisiana, on July 12, 1934, he first took up piano at the age of three, learning the instrument from his mother, Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn, herself an accomplished performer; in 1938 the family relocated to Kilgore, Texas, and there the young boy gave his first public recital, immediately establishing himself as a prodigy of astonishing skill. Cliburn continued studying under his mother, going on to win the Texas State Prize in 1947 and later appearing in concert with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. He entered the Juilliard School in 1951 to study with Mme. Rosina Lhevinne, and remained there until 1954, the year he won the Roeder Award and the Levintritt Competition, soon making his debut appearance as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic.

Earning critical comparison to the likes of Rubinstein, Horowitz, and Paderewski, Cliburn became something of a phenomenon. In 1958 he journeyed to Moscow to compete in the First International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition; even at the peak of Cold War tensions, he performed so brilliantly that, with the approval of Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the judges proclaimed him the gold medalist. Cliburn's victory was the stuff of international headlines, and he returned to the U.S. to the welcome of a New York City ticker-tape parade -- the first and only time a classical musician has been so honored. He became a media figure on a par with the era's biggest pop stars and Hollywood idols -- in Philadelphia, fans even ripped off the door to his limousine. Within days of his return, Cliburn performed at a sold-out Carnegie Hall; his recitations of Tchaikovsky's First and Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concertos were recorded by RCA, and issued to enormous success.

Cliburn's international fame continued to grow over the next two decades -- he made thousands of concert appearances all over the world and released a vast repertoire of recordings. In 1978, he announced an extended break from the concert stage, and over the next decade performed only once, appearing at the White House to play for President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. By 1989, Cliburn was again performing with some regularity, and in 1994, he mounted a 16-city national tour, allowing a new generation of fans to experience him in the live arena for the first time. That same year, he also issued his first new recordings in close to 20 years -- Van Cliburn in Moscow, a collection of performances with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kiril Kondrashin, originally recorded during the early '70s. In August 2012 it was announced that Cliburn was suffering from advanced bone cancer, and he passed away at home in Fort Worth, Texas in February 2013 at the age of 78. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Greatest Piano Concertos

1. Piano Concerto No. 2 In C Minor, Op. 18: I. Moderato

2. Piano Concerto No. 2 In C Minor, Op. 18: II. Adagio

3. Piano Concerto No. 2 In C Minor, Op. 18: III. Allegro

4. Piano Concerto No. 3 In D Minor, Op. 30: I. Allegro

5. Piano Concerto No. 3 In D Minor, Op. 30: II. Intermezzo

6. Piano Concerto No. 3 In D Minor, Op. 30: III. Finale

7. Piano Concerto No. 5 In E Flat Major, Op. 73 "Emperor": I. Allegro

8. Piano Concerto No. 5 In E Flat Major, Op. 73 "Emperor": II. Adagio

9. Piano Concerto No. 5 In E Flat Major, Op. 73 "Emperor": III. Rondo

10. Piano Concerto In A Minor, Op. 54: I. Allegro

11. Piano Concerto In A Minor, Op. 54: II. Intermezzo

12. Piano Concerto In A Minor, Op. 54: III. Allegro

13. Piano Concerto No. 1 In B Flat Minor, Op. 23: I. Allegro

14. Piano Concerto No. 1 In B Flat Minor, Op. 23: II. Andantino

15. Piano Concerto No. 1 In B Flat Minor, Op. 23: III. Allegro

16. Piano Concerto No. 2 In B Flat Major, Op. 83: I. Allegro

17. Piano Concerto No. 2 In B Flat Major, Op. 83: II. Allegro Appassionato

18. Piano Concerto No. 2 In B Flat Major, Op. 83: III. Andante

19. Piano Concerto No. 2 In B Flat Major, Op. 83: IV. Allegretto

20. Piano Concerto No. 4 In G Major, Op. 58: I. Allegro

21. Piano Concerto No. 4 In G Major, Op. 58: II. Andante

22. Piano Concerto No. 4 In G Major, Op. 58: III. Rondo

23. Piano Concerto No. 3 In C Major, Op. 26: I. Andante

24. Piano Concerto No. 3 In C Major, Op. 26: II. Tema Con Variazioni

25. Piano Concerto No. 3 In C Major, Op. 26: III. Allegro

26. Piano Concerto No. 2 In D Minor, Op. 23: I. Larghetto

27. Piano Concerto No. 2 In D Minor, Op. 23: II. Presto

28. Piano Concerto No. 2 In D Minor, Op. 23: III. Largo

x

Track List: The Essential Van Cliburn

Disc 1
Disc 2

1. Polonaise In A-Flat, Op. 53 "Heroic"

5. Étude-Tableau In E-Flat Minor, Op. 39 No. 5

9. Nocturne In B, Op. 62, No. 1

10. Fantaisie In F Minor, Op. 49

11. Prelude In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 3, No. 2

12. Mephisto Waltz

x

Track List: My Favorite Rachmaninoff

1. Sonata No. 2 In B-Flat Minor, Op. 36: Allegro Agitato

2. Sonata No. 2 In B-Flat Minor, Op. 36: Non Allegro

3. Sonata No. 2 In B-Flat Minor, Op. 36: L'istesso Tempo; Allegro Molto

4. Étude-Tableau In E-Flat Minor, Op. 39 No. 5

5. Prelude In D, No. 4

6. Prelude In G, Op. 32 No. 5

7. Preludes, Op. 23 (Highlights): Prelude In G Minor, No. 5

8. Preludes, Op. 23 (Highlights): Prelude In E-Flat, No. 6

9. Preludes, Op. 23 (Highlights): Prelude In C Minor, No. 7

10. Prelude In G-Sharp Minor, Op. 32, No. 12

11. Prelude In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 3, No. 2

x

Track List: My Favorite Liszt

x

Track List: Van Cliburn In Moscow

x

Track List: The World's Favorite Piano Music

1. Liebestraum No. 3 In A-Flat

2. Prelude In G Minor, Op. 23, No. 5

3. Für Elise

5. Prelude In E-Flat, Op. 23, No. 6

6. Rêverie

7. Prelude In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 3, No. 2

8. Prelude In G, Op. 32, No. 5

9. Waltz In A-Flat, Op. 39, No. 15

10. Consolation No. 5

12. Intermezzo In E-Flat Minor, Op. 118, No. 6

15. Intermezzo In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 117, No. 3

16. Prelude In C Minor, Op. 23, No. 7

17. Fantaisie-Impromptu In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 66

x

Track List: A Romantic Collection/Liszt Sonata

2. Consolation No. 3

3. Rhapsody In E-Flat, Op. 119, No. 4

4. Romance, Op. 28, No. 2

5. Song Of The Lark (The Seasons, Op. 37b: March)

7. Toccata (Le Tombeau De Couperin, No. 6)

8. Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte

9. Prelude In G-Sharp Minor, Op. 32, No. 12

x

Track List: Beethoven Sonatas

1. Sonata No. 2 "Moonlight" In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27: Adagio Sostenuto

2. Sonata No. 2 "Moonlight" In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27: Allegretto

3. Sonata No. 2 "Moonlight" In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27: Presto

4. Sonata In C Minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique": Grave: Allegro Di Molto E Con Brio

5. Sonata In C Minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique": Adagio Contabile

6. Sonata In C Minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique": Rondo: Allegro

7. Piano Sonata In E-Flat Major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux": I. Adagio - Allegro (Les Adieux)

8. Piano Sonata In E-Flat Major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux": II. Andante Espressivo (L'Absence)

9. Piano Sonata In E-Flat Major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux": III. Vivacissimamente (Le Retour)

10. Sonata In F Minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata": Allegro Assai

11. Sonata In F Minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata": Andante Con Moto

12. Sonata In F Minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata": Allegro Ma Non Troppo

x

Track List: My Favorite Chopin

1. Polonaise For Piano No. 6 In A Flat Major ("Héroique"), Op. 53, Ct. 155: Polonaise No. 6 in A Flat Major ("Héroique"), Op 53, CT. 155

2. Nocturnes (2) For Piano, Op. 62, Ct. 124-125: I. Nocturne No. 17 in B Major, Op. 62, CT. 124

3. Fantasy For Piano In F Minor/a Flat Major, Op. 49, C. 42: Fantasy for Piano in F Minor/A Flat Major, Op. 49, CT. 42

4. Etude For Piano No. 23 In A Minor, Op. 25/11, CT. 36: Etude For Piano No. 23 In A Minor, Op. 25/11, Ct. 36

5. Etude For Piano No. 3 In E Major, Op. 10/3, Ct. 16: Etude No.3 In E Major, Op. 10 No.3 Tristesse

6. Ballade For Piano No. 3 In A Flat Major, Op. 47, Ct. 4: Ballade for Piano No. 3 in a Flat Major, Op. 47, Ct. 4

7. Waltz For Piano No. 7 In C Sharp Minor, Op. 64/2, Ct. 213: Waltz No. 7 In C Sharp Minor

8. Scherzo For Piano No. 3 In C Sharp Minor, Op. 39, Ct. 199: Scherzo for Piano No. 3 in C Sharp Minor, Op. 39, Ct. 199

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