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Van Cliburn dies at 78; pianist who gave U.S. a Cold War victory
Van Cliburn dies at 78; pianist who gave U.S. a Cold War victory

After a tense decade of air raid sirens, duck-and-cover drills and fears of Soviet superiority, hope for America came in an unlikely form in the late 1950s: a lanky, 23-year-old Texan with a head full of curls and huge hands that ranged across a piano keyboard with virtuosic power. With his transcendent performances of Tchaikovsky's First and Rachmaninoff's Third piano concertos, Van Cliburn brought 1,500 Russians to their feet in a Moscow concert hall. Declared the victor of the first International Tchaikovsky Competition, the young American became a hero of the Cold War era and an object of adoration around the world, whose fame helped bring classical music to the masses. ...

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