The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Here are the three winners – Ukrainian, Italian and American — of the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition that concluded Sunday night in Fort Worth, Texas.

June 11, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

We have a winner!

Actually, we have three of them (below in a photo by Tom Fox) – one Ukrainian (first place, center), one Italian (second place, on left) and one American (third place, on right).

van cliburn 14 3 winners CR Tom Fox Beatrice Rana (silver) of Italy; Vadym Kholodenko (gold) of Urkaine; and Sean Chen (bronze) of the U.S

After two weeks of preliminaries, semi-finals and finals, the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, has come to its conclusion. It ended with concertos and the official announcement Sunday night.

It is the first competition, now in its 52nd year, to be held after the death of its namesake, the world-famous pianist Van Cliburn (at bottom, at the first Tchaikovsky Competition, which he won against all odds, in Moscow in 1958) who died in February at 78 of bone cancer.

Here is a previous posting I did about the competition with many other links:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/classical-music-after-the-recent-death-of-van-cliburn-the-14th-van-cliburn-international-piano-competition-is-being-held-may-24-june-9-in-fort-worth-texas-here-are-links-to-many-kinds-of-informati/

Other changes, including bigger prizes, were also made with this competition, which is held every four years. But apparently, it was a fine success on many counts.

2013 Van Cliburn competition 2013

Here are several links to stories that include a variety of background and details:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2013/06/10/189511177/ukrainian-wins-top-prize-at-van-cliburn-piano-competition

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/10/vadym-kholodenko-ukrainian-pianist-and-cliburn-winner_n_3414712.html?utm_hp_ref=arts

http://www.classical-music.com/news/kholodenko-takes-van-cliburn-glory

cliburn 14 standing ovation for sean chen Tom Fox

And here is a link to the photo portfolio from the competition with a lot of thankful tweets from fans who follow the various rounds of the competition:

http://www.cliburn.org/landing.html

Here is the terrifically designed logo for the competition that turns Van Cliburn’s initials sideways into a piano:

van cliburn 14 cup and logo Tom Fox

And here are some observations by Scott Cantrell, the classical music critic for the Dallas Morning News who clearly dislikes percussive piano playing, about the performances of the three winners plus a photo gallery, with detailed IDs, by staff photographer Tom Fox:

http://www.dallasnews.com/entertainment/columnists/scott-cantrell/20130609-ukrainian-pianist-vadym-kholodenko-claims-cliburn-competition-s-first-prize.ece

Cliburn's hands


Classical music: Pianist Van Cliburn, an icon of American classical music, died today at 78.

February 27, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

These days, “icon” is an overused word.

But it certainly applies in the case of American pianist Van Cliburn (below). For five decade, he was ever-present in the mind of classical music fans ever since he won, against all odds, the first Tchaikovsky International Competition in 1958, held in Moscow during the height of The Cold War.

Cliburn's hands

I have written before about Cliburn, who died today at 78 after a long battle with bone cancer.

Here is one posting about the controversy that surrounded his playing:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/classical-music-how-good-was-pianist-van-cliburn/

Here is the most important blog posting, and be sure to reader the many intelligent and deeply felt comments by readers:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/classical-music-american-pianist-van-cliburn-is-diagnosed-with-advanced-cancer-the-ear-returns-cliburns-playing-of-the-beautiful-and-touching-liszt-schubert-song-dedication-to-honor-him/

There are many reasons to like him and his playing. Not for nothing was he the first classical musician to ask and get a concert fee of $10,000 for one night;s performance.

But if you asked me to sum it up, I would say: Van Cliburn made every note come from some place and go to another place, and he always developed a logic – melodic, harmonic or rhythmic — to a particular phrase or passage.

van cliburn playing

His Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 (below, the first classical recording to sell 1 million copies) and his Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 remain for me the best, the absolute best, versions ever recorded.

Cliburn Tchaikovsky LP

I didn’t like his Brahms or Schumann so much, but I liked much of his Chopin — hear the Nocturne he plays at the bottom in a YouTube video — and I adored his playing of Edward MacDowell‘s Piano Concerto No. 2, which also remains definitive for me.

His personal and professional story proved fascinating and courageous as well as inspiring to many young musicians, including myself. (Below is the 23-year-old Van Cliburn in the ticker tape parade he received in New York City after his win in Moscow.) 

Van Cliburn ticker tape parade in 1958

Here are links to some important obituaries and stories. You’ll find many memorable quotes and many unforgettable facts as well as some wonderful photos from all stages of his life and career:

From The New York Times:

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

van cliburn ill

From the Associated Press:

http://entertainment.time.com/2013/02/27/van-cliburn-american-classical-pianist-dies/

From The Dallas Morning News:

http://www.dallasnews.com/entertainment/arts/headlines/20130227-pianist-van-cliburn-dies-at-age-78.ece

From the Houston Star-Telegram, the first a story and the second, a life in photos:

http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/02/27/4647640/van-cliburn-dies.html

http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/02/27/4647679/van-cliburn-dead-at-78.html

From National Public Radio:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2013/02/27/173061668/remembering-van-cliburn-a-giant-among-pianists-and-a-cold-war-idol

From The Los Angeles Times:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-van-cliburn-obit-20130227,0,6919189.story

From The Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/american-pianist-van-cliburn-whose-1958-triumph-at-a-moscow-competition-impressed-world-dies/2013/02/27/8d8a1dec-8100-11e2-a671-0307392de8de_story.html

From CNN:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/27/showbiz/van-cliburn-obit/?hpt=en_c2

From USA TODAY:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2013/02/27/van-cliburn-american-classical-pianist-dies/1951217/

What would you like to say on Van Cliburn’s passing? Leave a COMMENT.

What is your favorite recording of Cliburn’s?


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