Van Cliburn, one of the world's great pianists -- once dubbed "The Texan Who Conquered Russia" by Time magazine -- will reflect on the trajectory of his own career, from piano lessons with his mother, Rildia Bee, to performances at the White House for every President of the United States since Harry Truman.
Van Cliburn was propelled to fame in 1958 following his historic victory at the first international Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Embraced by the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war, this Texan became America’s most persuasive cultural ambassador, creating chinks in the iron curtain long before glasnost and perestroika. His recording of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto was the first classical recording ever to sell a million copies and since has gone triple platinum, Van Cliburn remains to this day one of America’s most beloved musicians.
In a wide-ranging conversation with Paul Holdengräber, Van Cliburn will also discuss his extensive collection of English furniture, Russian art, silver and jewels, to be auctioned off at Christie's on May 17.
An honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music in London, Van Cliburn is the recipient of more than twenty honorary doctorate degrees. He has performed for every President of the United States since Harry Truman and received Kennedy Center Honors, as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In a 2004 Kremlin ceremony Van Cliburn received the Order of Friendship from President Vladimir Putin. In 2003 President George W. Bush bestowed upon him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and President Barack Obama honored Van Cliburn with the National Medal of Arts at The White House in 2011.
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