Van Cliburn, Cold War Musical Envoy, Dies at 78

Van Cliburn won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958 - NYTimes.com

Van Cliburn won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958 – NYTimes.com

An international legend for over five decades, a great humanitarian and a brilliant musician whose light will continue to shine through his extraordinary legacy. Van Cliburn was the American pianist whose first-place award at the 1958 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow made him an overnight sensation and propelled him to a phenomenally successful and lucrative career. Perhaps it was the pressure of stardom thrusted upon a 23-year old was too much and as a result, by 1978, he retired from the stage. He was praised for his technical strength, musical poise, and manly lyricism unmarred by eccentricity.