The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Van Cliburn Competition winners remember the award’s namesake after his death last week at 78; plus, here are some more obituaries and features about the “Leonard Bernstein of the Piano” and also his gay life. Also, the Lawrence (University) Chamber Players perform on “Sunday Live From the Chazen.” | March 9, 2013

ALERT: On Wisconsin Public Radio‘s “Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen,” which airs live statewide tomorrow, on Sunday, March 10, from 12:30 to 2 p.m., the Lawrence Chamber Players (below) from the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin, will perform. The faculty string ensemble will consist of violins, viola, cello, bass, piano and classical guitar.  The Lawrence Chamber Players will perform music by Miroslav Tadic and Astor Piazzolla as well as the famed Brahms Piano Quintet.

Lawence Chamber Players

By Jacob Stockinger

Last week, in a popular posting, The Ear offered obituaries for the American superstar classical pianist Van Cliburn, who died of bone cancer at 78.

Here is a link to that initial post:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/classical-music-pianist-van-cliburn-an-icon-of-american-classical-music-died-today-at-78/

Since then many more obituaries, features and analyses have appeared.

One of the best comes, not unexpectedly, from “Deceptive Cadence,” the terrific classical music blog on National Public Radio.

NPR asked pianists who have won the gold medal at the Van Cliburn International Competition -– where several months ago Cliburn (below, performing in 1993) made his last public appearance — to remember the namesake, who emerges once again as a modest, gracious and warm personality as well as world-class pianist.

rememberingcliburn

The medalists such as Olga Kern (below top), Jon Nakamatsu (below middle), Andre–Michel Schub and Joyce Yang (below bottom) have their own big names and reputations now, and they mention specific performances and specific piano pieces, some of the memories and accounts are quite moving and emotionally stirring.

Olga Kern

Jon Nakamatsu

Joyce Yang

The blog posting also feature some of Cliburn’s best recordings as well as one of the medalists’ own playing:

See for yourself and maybe leave a memory of your own here or on the NPR blog or, thanks to copying and pasting on both:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2013/03/01/173241759/thank-you-for-that-gift-memories-of-van-cliburn-from-medalists

And here are more obituaries and commentaries:

From the blog “Music Beat” at The Voice of America:

http://blogs.voanews.com/music/2013/03/01/remembering-van-cliburn/

From the Dallas-Morning news with information about where to send memorial gifts and donations:

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dallasmorningnews/obituary.aspx?n=van-cliburn&pid=163401322&fhid=6322#fbLoggedOut

From the New York Times, that places Cliburn within his outstanding generation of American contemporaries, sort of the Leonard Bernstein of the Piano in terms of changing the debate from Europe and Russia to America:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/arts/music/van-cliburn-pianist-dies-at-78.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

For a view from abroad, here is the obit from The Guardian in Great Britain:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/mar/03/van-cliburn

van cliburn old

An analysis about how Cliburn’s live-in friend was treated and how the issue of Cliburn’s being gay and the subject of a palimony suit was ignored or finessed:

http://www.kennethinthe212.com/2013/02/nyt-obit-notes-pianist-van-cliburns.html

How the LGTB magazine The Advocate treated The Gay Van Cliburn:

http://www.advocate.com/society/obituaries/2013/02/28/watch-remembering-gay-pianist-van-cliburn

How the LGBT Washington Blade reported on the gay side of Van Cliburn:

https://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/03/07/classical-closet/?utm_source=https://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/03/07/classical-closet/&utm_medium=Website&utm_campaign=RelatedLinksInside

There are many more. Just go to Google and plus in Van Cliburn obituaries or “Van Cliburn and homosexuality.”

And here is a wonderful video and audio remembrance put together by PBS’ The Newshour and arts reporter Jeffrey Brown:


1 Comment »

  1. The Washington Blade article is most informative and interesting. It puts gay classical musicians in an artistic, social, and historical perspective. The article puts an emphasis on the fact that a performance career in classical music is such a demanding life-regimen, that who is loving or living with whom is secondary to someone’s Art, which REALLY takes up most of their time. Ask any married jazz musician, if you can find one.They have the same relationship problems that all artists do, which is, Art first, spouse/equivalent second.
    It takes a special kind of person to be in relationship with an artist. Kudos to Tom Smith!
    MBB

    Comment by Michael BB — March 9, 2013 @ 3:15 am


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