Van Cliburn

Gregory Manchess

When American pianist Van Cliburn died in 2013, funeral organizers in Texas couldn’t locate an obscure piece of music he’d requested for the service. But as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, thanks to a Philadelphia connection, the Russian folk song was found, and is now enjoying new life in America. "Vanya Klibern," as he was called in Russia, says Inna Lobanova-Heasley, was "a rock star" there.

Here are several ensembles presenting the Russian folk song performed at Van Cliburn's funeral service.

Saturday, July 12, 2014 would have been the 80th birthday of celebrated American pianist Van Cliburn,  who died in 2013. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, his 1958 win in the Soviet Union’s first International Tchaikovsky Competition was a welcome sign of warmth in the midst of Cold War tensions.

Six finalists for the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition were announced last night in Fort Worth, Texas. For the first time since its inception more than 50 years ago, the contest is taking place without its namesake. Cliburn died in February of cancer, and the competition is dealing with his loss and other changes as well.

Pianist Van Cliburn's international fame landed him on the popular '50s and '60s television quiz show What's My Line? as a mystery guest - not a typical scenario for most classical artists.

In the wake of his death from cancer on Feb. 27th, the music world is reminded anew that winning the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 did him a world of good as well as a world of harm. Yet he wasn't the only one. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns looks at the somewhat lost generation that was Cliburn's pianistic contemporaries, including Leon Fleisher, Gary Graffman, and Byron Janis.

After 14 years as associate concertmaster of The Philadelphia Orchestra, Michael Ludwig made a bold move – he decided to pursue the path of soloist.

  • Very touching: the ailing Van Cliburn addressed the Fort Worth audience at the concert celebrating his competition's 50th anniversary: "I personally want to thank you all for all of your faithful support. Never forget that I love you all from the bottom of my heart forever."

Renowned Fort Worth pianist Van Cliburn, 78, has bone cancer. Long time friend and publicist Mary Lou Falcone issued this brief statement Monday afternoon.

"Van Cliburn has been diagnosed with advanced bone cancer," Falcone said. "He is under excellent care and resting comfortably at home. His spirits are high. We ask that his privacy be respected."