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Classical pianist Van Cliburn died earlier today in Fort Worth, Texas at age 78 because of bone cancer.
Cliburn became famous when he was 23, winning the gold medal at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958.
According to the Kansas City Star, Cliburn was portrayed as a hero, who triumphed over Russians in classical music, which is Russia’s strong suit, at the height of the Cold War.
After returning to the states, Cliburn got a ticker-tape parade in New York and was on the cover of a series of magazines. Times Magazine called Cliburn “The Texan Who Conquered Russia."
The success brought him numerous tournaments around the world. His album recording of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 is a hit, selling over 1 million copies.
In honor of Cliburn, there is a Van Cliburn International Piano Competition held every four years in Texas.
He also received Kennedy Center Honors in 2001 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003, reported San Francisco Chronicle.
The great concert pianist will be missed.