The recent death of internationally renowned pianist Van Cliburn at age 78 is a special loss to residents of Louisiana, who claimed Cliburn as a native son.
Born in Shreveport on July 12, 1934, Cliburn moved to Texas with his family when he was 6. He is best known for winning the first-place award at the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958. The Cold War was at its height, and the decision to give the top prize to an American had to be approved by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Cliburn’s enthusiastic reception by the Soviet people helped warm relations between the Soviet Union and the United States.
In subsequent years, Cliburn helped nurture new generations of musical talent through the Van Cliburn piano competition that bore his name.
The loss of Cliburn is a sad occasion, but his legacy promises to endure.