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Just in: Van Cliburn announces cancer diagnosis

The legendary pianist, winner of the first Tchaikovsky competition, has announced through his publicist that he has advanced bone cancer. He is being treated at home and requests privacy. Van Cliburn is 78.

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  1. Van Cliburn is a living legend, an icon from the Golden Age of pianism. I am almost surprised to learn he is still alive, and I am also wondering why we haven’t heard him perform more often in this century. There is – and will always be – a special feeling surrounding his name and legacy. I am saddened to hear of his illness. I only hope that the doctors will do their very best to help him!!!

  2. Gerald Robbins says:

    I am deeply saddened and shocked to learn of Van Cliburn’s illness. He has been and continues to be such a great inspiration, encouragement, and friend to so many pianists, especially to those, such as myself, who had the privilege of meeting him through his international competition and foundation, and who offered generously, as a result of the Van Cliburn Competition and Foundation, his encouragement, wisdom, advice, friendship, and support for so many years, to many, young, gifted, emerging artists, who, like myself, would pursue the challenges of an international piano career. His legendary warm romanticism, and pristine pianistic and musical art, will always continue to remain for me a major beacon light of inspiration. I send to him my deep affection, and fervent prayers and hopes for his speedy recovery.

  3. That is terrible news. i shared a program with Van in 1976 (my Declaration of Independence, a Bicentennial work, was premiered that night narrated by Jose Ferrer). I met his mother as well and remember her joyous spirit. She asked me in a singsong voice how I liked her boy’s playing!

    My memory of my time backstage with Van remains vibrant. He showed me his removable tuxedo collars which he had made for him by Brooks Brothers (“Only $20 each, and you just toss them away when you’re done,” he said in his mildly Texas twang) He has a sweet caring disposition. One of the loveliest gentlemen with impeccable manners and kindness. And what a fine musician in his prime.

    I hope he has a swift and full recovery.

  4. Thoughts and prayers for a full recovery for a man who set a true standard and who remains an inspiration to musicians everywhere.

  5. harold braun says:

    How sad.I include him in my prayers.He produced such a wonderful sound on the piano,mellow and round,never harsh or brittle even in the loudest passages. And my mom always told me how much she fell for him,back in 1958,and how she pinned the LP covers of his recordings to the wall!

  6. Met Mr Clyburn a few years ago, very special man. He was there with opened arms when I lost my Mother in 1998, will never forget his sweet lindness. All my prayers go out to him and family and his close friends, God bless. Hoping for a speedy recovery.


  7. I was attending Sunday evening First Baptist services when the word reached Kilgore that young Van had won the competion in Moscow in 1958. Van’s mother and dad were there too that evening when it was announced by the pastor at the conclusion of the service that CBS News had called the church office, spoke to the church secretary and asked her to convey the messge to Mr. and Mrs. Cliburn. Kilgorites were thrilled for him. Van never let his celebrity get in the way of early friendships. He is one of the finest and most talented individuals I know.

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