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Joyce Yang. (Courtesy of the artist)

'Thank You For That Gift': Memories Of Van Cliburn From Medalists

Mar 4, 2013

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Van Cliburn plays Tchaikovsky. Van Cliburn: Complete Album Collection Van Cliburn: My Favorite Chopin Van Cliburn plays Rachmaninov. Van Cliburn in concert in 1993.

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After his stunning victory at the first Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958, pianist Van Cliburn had every right to boast for the rest of his career. But that wasn't in his nature. Ask anyone who ever met him and they'll tell you he was humble and gracious. The only time I ever met him, for a fleeting moment backstage after a Kennedy Center performance in 1997, he shook my hand, paused leisurely as if there were no one else in line behind me, and in that elegant Texas drawl, thanked me deeply for attending the concert.

Cliburn's self-effacing generosity in his life and music inspired and touched many people, especially those who competed at the international piano competition that bears his name. We asked four Cliburn Competition winners to tell us stories about the great pianist and pick their favorite Cliburn recordings.

Have a favorite Van Cliburn memory? Tell us all about it in the comments section.

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