Posted at 12:59 PM on February 27, 2013
by Emily Reese
After hearing of Van Cliburn's passing today, I want to share a quick playlist for those wanting a quick overview of who he was as a pianist, and also the type of music he played.
Cliburn favored the Romantics. You won't see Mozart on the list, or Bach. Liszt, however, is definitely on the list.
This is not a definitive collection, merely some of my personal favorite Van Cliburn recordings. Especially the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 that made him an international star.
Rest in peace, Van Cliburn.
I feel like one of my best friedsn has passed. I saw Cliburn iwhenh a child n the concert in Washington when he wore Presidents Johnson's tux! My Dad gave me music and Cliburn was my first concert and the best. Rest in peace.
In the summer of 1966 Van Cliburn performed in Anchorage, Alaska. Cliburn's last of several encores was Chopin's best known polonaise.
The memory served well during a summer of living and working in the bush on Kodiak Island. After returning to college in Minnesota, I was surprised to learn that Van Cliburn would soon appear at my little college where I ran spotlights for performances.
I volunteered for the Cliburn concert and was awed when he appeared in the office of the college field house in white tie and tales. One of my classmates, a basketball player manning the desk, was bold enough to ask Van to autograph a pair of white jeans that my friend kept in the building for celebrities to sign on these sorts of occasions. When Cliburn obliged, I got up the nerve to tell him how much I enjoyed his concert that summer in Alaska, and I asked if he would play Chopin's polonaise for his last encore. He was on his way to the stage, but Van took time to give me a moment and say, "Yes."
The concert was a crowd pleaser, and the encores kept coming. I was working my spotlight and beginning to wonder if Chopin might not make the cut when Cliburn's back snapped and those first unmistakable chords of Chopin's electrified the audience.
Unforgettable, Van Cliburn. Many thanks.