The final rites for the great pianist were celebrated yesterday at Broadway Baptist Church in his home town of Fort Worth, Texas.
George W Bush, a friend of long standing, recalled that Van Cliburn had played for every US president since Harry Truman. ‘Members of the presidents’ club could have taken a lesson from him in diplomacy,’ he added. ‘He was gracious and humble, beloved even by the enemy. I was blessed to have befriended this remarkable man.’
President Obama, in a statement read at the service, said, ‘I am confident that the enduring beauty of his art will sustain his legendary status for years to come.’ Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, in a further read-out statement, said: ‘Over the course of many years, during the most difficult historical times, the art of Van Cliburn brought together people from different countries, different continents and united them… We shall always remember Van Cliburn as a true and sincere friend of the Russian people.’
Some 1,400 people attended.