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#2042611 - 03/03/13 11:03 PM Re: Van Cliburn 1934-2013 [Re: Numerian]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4794
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: Numerian
the totality of a man's life is judged on much broader terms, particularly by the manner in which he affected people. At his best, Van Cliburn's playing touched people with its warmth and sincerity, and these qualities followed him throughout his life. These are the qualities people remember when they think of him, and I guess as many or more people met him and think of him for these qualities than ever heard him perform on the stage. People will remember Van Cliburn long after they have forgotten other pianists who fit Louis's more limited criteria for success as a pianist.
+10
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#2042620 - 03/03/13 11:36 PM Re: Van Cliburn 1934-2013 [Re: Kreisler]
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1260
Loc: Tomball, Texas
I get such a chuckle out of this. The easiest thing to do on the planet is criticize. Truth is I could care less about any critic from any media, print or otherwise. To me they are a curiosity, nothing more and nothing less. They just happen to have the bully pulpit and that's enough to prop up their egos. My question to our sniper taking pot shots at Van, is how many lives does he think he will touch over his lifetime of criticism? I would warrant, that he won't touch one life. Van has been tried in the court of public opinion and has not been found wanting, actually quite the contrary. Van on a bad day was still light years ahead of most of us on a good day, let alone a critic. I heard Van play marvelously and terribly...even on the same program. I heard him last in the late 90's playing the Tchaikowsky at an outdoor venue, and it was a perfectly respectable rendering. Was it played at warp factor 6 like the days of his youth...maybe not, but respectable nonetheless and ticket prices at the outside event were not over $20. Plenty of artists charge outrageous fees and gate percentages, Horowitz among them. I heard him play terribly and wonderfully as well. To me he always embodied pianistic perfection on an exalted level, but plenty of performances and recordings as well, were VERY substandard. It would have been just as silly days after his passing to pass judgement in such a classless manner. I didn't have ready internet access at that time and maybe it was a blessing.

Van inspired me, and when we met him as students he was wonderful and gracious and involved. The pretentious meanderings of a jealous critic that doesn't have one tenth the talent in Van's pinky finger won't change that. The easiest job on the planet is to be a critic because no one gives a damn what you have to say except maybe a few snobby academics. No one reads it and no one cares.

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#2042761 - 03/04/13 09:25 AM Re: Van Cliburn 1934-2013 [Re: Kreisler]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
From Hank's blog (I hope he doesn't mind, but it was very well written!)

Quote:
Van Cliburn passed away after a bout with bone marrow cancer. His active career as a concert pianist was all too short. Much like President Kennedy, whose term in office was cut short, the quality of his active tenure overrode its brevity. Cliburn spent the last 35 years of his life as an elder statesman of Classical Music.

I remember in the 1980s mentioning to my mother that Cliburn was turning 50; she responded “He’s already 50?” I then pointed out to my mother that she was already 51. My mother was not amused.

Cliburn was truly “America’s pianist” (even more than William Kapell) to the extent that Cliburn invariably started his domestic concerts with The Star Spangled Banner. It was as such that he returned home to a ticker-tape parade after winning the 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow – the only such accolade ever accorded a Classical musician.

Despite Cliburn’s All-American,apple pie loving boy from Texas image, his musical training was solidly in the Russian School. It’s not for nothing that his teacher was Rosina Lhévinne, doyenne of Russian piano teachers. His playing appealed to the jurors at the Tchaikovsky Competition – particularly Sviatoslav Richter, who awarded Cliburn TENs and scored everyone else ZEROs. Eventually the situation came to the attention of Nikita Khrushchev, who asked if Cliburn was really “the best” of the lot. When Khrushchev was answered in the affirmative, he responded succinctly “Then give him the prize.” When Cliburn played Moscow Nights as an encore at his victory recital, he won the hearts of the Russian public.

In retrospect, it’s easy to forget what a coup it was for an American to win Russia’s premier musical competition during the Cold War’s height. But listening to the evidence, it’s also easy to see why he won. Cliburn had technique to burn, but never felt the need to get into a speed race – even when he played such warhorses as Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto. Yet it’s Cliburn’s recording of that concerto which brings a lump to my throat at the final statement of the third movement’s “big tune.” Cliburn was among the most sincere of interpreters, and his example shines through in an era of growing cynicism – both in and out of music. His temperament ran warm, but not hot like Rubinstein’s and certainly not molten like Horowitz’s. In many ways, Cliburn resembled Benno Moiseiwitsch, the master of relaxed virtuosity. Also, Cliburn’s ringing sonority reminded many of Rosina Lhévinne’s husband, Josef. (Vladimir Horowitz once remarked that he and Arthur Rubinstein together couldn’t match Cliburn’s tone.) His stage demeanor was soulfully dignified and welcoming. Although he was too classy to make negative comments about other musicians, Cliburn was no doubt horrified by the face-pulling freak shows put on by the likes of Lang Lang. Cliburn’s sense of decorum wasn’t always returned – particularly when he was slapped with an unsuccessful palimony suit in the 1990s

Let’s get one thing out of the way, Cliburn was a good musician. There is a misconception, mostly centered in the Germanic circles, that one has to be a great Mozart and Beethoven interpreter to be a great musician. Nothing could be further from the truth. Much of this stems from Artur Schnabel’s statement that he limited his repertoire to music that was “better than it could be played.” As others have pointed out, Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantasie and Schumann’s Fantasy are also “better than they can be played”. Fact is, there have been plenty of pianists who turn in fine performances of various Beethoven and Mozart works – including Cliburn. (There are also plenty of pianists who have been lauded for their Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert interpretations for no good reason.) But there are not many pianists who can hold together Chopin’s B-flat minor Sonata, let alone the Liszt sonata.

Cliburn was wise enough to know his limitations and be selective in the music he chose to present to the public. Chronologically and stylistically, Cliburn’s repertoire started with Mozart and ended with Barber’s Piano Sonata. He didn’t embrace serialism or twelve-tone because music without a “line” didn’t speak to him. Nor did he play much chamber music. Instead, he concentrated on the core Romantic solo and concerto repertoire – and he played it very well.

Cliburn was also wise enough to know when to stop. Much has been written about the decline in Cliburn’s career in the 1970s. It was a classic case of burnout: too many performances of the same prize-winning concertos with not enough time for contemplation. Cliburn’s management – and don’t underestimate the extent to which managers run the careers of Classical musicians – was too eager to cash in on the prize winner as opposed to developing his career and allowing him to grow over decades. While many know-it-alls crowed over Cliburn’s retirement, at least he knew when enough was enough. That can’t be said for many of the intellectual crowd’s pantheon of musical heroes – including Claudio Arrau and Rudolf Serkin, great artists who should have left the stage years before they did. Then there are those who shouldn’t have begun in the first place.

Cliburn attempted several comebacks, but it was never really the same. When he admonished contestants at his competitions to only engage in a performing career if it was something “you feel you HAVE to do, FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE” one could sense his warning was directed backwards in time to the man in the mirror.

Cliburn, or Vanya as he was called by the Russians who adored him, was more than just a pianist. He harkened back to an era when a musician was thought of as almost a higher form of life than we ordinary humans. Cliburn’s performance of Moscow Nights at the 1987 Reagan-Gorbachev Summit may have done more to thaw the cold war than the START Treaty.

As with Van Cliburn’s heroes and friends Horowitz and Rubinstein, his recordings will live on after him. Fortunately, his recorded legacy has been treated with respect and his complete recordings were recently reissued. But recordings can present, at best, an incomplete picture. Those who were lucky enough to hear him in person (I wasn’t) will carry the treasurable memories of an American icon.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#2042776 - 03/04/13 10:10 AM Re: Van Cliburn 1934-2013 [Re: Pogorelich.]
griffin2417 Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 2434
Loc: Minneapolis, MN
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
From Hank's blog (I hope he doesn't mind, but it was very well written!)

Quote:
Van Cliburn passed away after a bout with bone marrow cancer. His active career as a concert pianist was all too short. Much like President Kennedy, whose term in office was cut short, the quality of his active tenure overrode its brevity. Cliburn spent the last 35 years of his life as an elder statesman of Classical Music.

I remember in the 1980s mentioning to my mother that Cliburn was turning 50; she responded “He’s already 50?” I then pointed out to my mother that she was already 51. My mother was not amused.

Cliburn was truly “America’s pianist” (even more than William Kapell) to the extent that Cliburn invariably started his domestic concerts with The Star Spangled Banner. It was as such that he returned home to a ticker-tape parade after winning the 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow – the only such accolade ever accorded a Classical musician.

Despite Cliburn’s All-American,apple pie loving boy from Texas image, his musical training was solidly in the Russian School. It’s not for nothing that his teacher was Rosina Lhévinne, doyenne of Russian piano teachers. His playing appealed to the jurors at the Tchaikovsky Competition – particularly Sviatoslav Richter, who awarded Cliburn TENs and scored everyone else ZEROs. Eventually the situation came to the attention of Nikita Khrushchev, who asked if Cliburn was really “the best” of the lot. When Khrushchev was answered in the affirmative, he responded succinctly “Then give him the prize.” When Cliburn played Moscow Nights as an encore at his victory recital, he won the hearts of the Russian public.

In retrospect, it’s easy to forget what a coup it was for an American to win Russia’s premier musical competition during the Cold War’s height. But listening to the evidence, it’s also easy to see why he won. Cliburn had technique to burn, but never felt the need to get into a speed race – even when he played such warhorses as Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto. Yet it’s Cliburn’s recording of that concerto which brings a lump to my throat at the final statement of the third movement’s “big tune.” Cliburn was among the most sincere of interpreters, and his example shines through in an era of growing cynicism – both in and out of music. His temperament ran warm, but not hot like Rubinstein’s and certainly not molten like Horowitz’s. In many ways, Cliburn resembled Benno Moiseiwitsch, the master of relaxed virtuosity. Also, Cliburn’s ringing sonority reminded many of Rosina Lhévinne’s husband, Josef. (Vladimir Horowitz once remarked that he and Arthur Rubinstein together couldn’t match Cliburn’s tone.) His stage demeanor was soulfully dignified and welcoming. Although he was too classy to make negative comments about other musicians, Cliburn was no doubt horrified by the face-pulling freak shows put on by the likes of Lang Lang. Cliburn’s sense of decorum wasn’t always returned – particularly when he was slapped with an unsuccessful palimony suit in the 1990s

Let’s get one thing out of the way, Cliburn was a good musician. There is a misconception, mostly centered in the Germanic circles, that one has to be a great Mozart and Beethoven interpreter to be a great musician. Nothing could be further from the truth. Much of this stems from Artur Schnabel’s statement that he limited his repertoire to music that was “better than it could be played.” As others have pointed out, Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantasie and Schumann’s Fantasy are also “better than they can be played”. Fact is, there have been plenty of pianists who turn in fine performances of various Beethoven and Mozart works – including Cliburn. (There are also plenty of pianists who have been lauded for their Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert interpretations for no good reason.) But there are not many pianists who can hold together Chopin’s B-flat minor Sonata, let alone the Liszt sonata.

Cliburn was wise enough to know his limitations and be selective in the music he chose to present to the public. Chronologically and stylistically, Cliburn’s repertoire started with Mozart and ended with Barber’s Piano Sonata. He didn’t embrace serialism or twelve-tone because music without a “line” didn’t speak to him. Nor did he play much chamber music. Instead, he concentrated on the core Romantic solo and concerto repertoire – and he played it very well.

Cliburn was also wise enough to know when to stop. Much has been written about the decline in Cliburn’s career in the 1970s. It was a classic case of burnout: too many performances of the same prize-winning concertos with not enough time for contemplation. Cliburn’s management – and don’t underestimate the extent to which managers run the careers of Classical musicians – was too eager to cash in on the prize winner as opposed to developing his career and allowing him to grow over decades. While many know-it-alls crowed over Cliburn’s retirement, at least he knew when enough was enough. That can’t be said for many of the intellectual crowd’s pantheon of musical heroes – including Claudio Arrau and Rudolf Serkin, great artists who should have left the stage years before they did. Then there are those who shouldn’t have begun in the first place.

Cliburn attempted several comebacks, but it was never really the same. When he admonished contestants at his competitions to only engage in a performing career if it was something “you feel you HAVE to do, FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE” one could sense his warning was directed backwards in time to the man in the mirror.

Cliburn, or Vanya as he was called by the Russians who adored him, was more than just a pianist. He harkened back to an era when a musician was thought of as almost a higher form of life than we ordinary humans. Cliburn’s performance of Moscow Nights at the 1987 Reagan-Gorbachev Summit may have done more to thaw the cold war than the START Treaty.

As with Van Cliburn’s heroes and friends Horowitz and Rubinstein, his recordings will live on after him. Fortunately, his recorded legacy has been treated with respect and his complete recordings were recently reissued. But recordings can present, at best, an incomplete picture. Those who were lucky enough to hear him in person (I wasn’t) will carry the treasurable memories of an American icon.


thumb Thanks for posting this! Listening to Cliburn's recordings of Debussy continue to inspire and motivate me as I study some of Debussy's compositions. I love Cliburn's performance of Clair de lune.
_________________________
Carl


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#2042921 - 03/04/13 03:36 PM Re: Van Cliburn 1934-2013 [Re: Kreisler]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6101
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
How terribly sad... What a loss! I was shattered when I heard the news. frown
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#2042929 - 03/04/13 03:57 PM Re: Van Cliburn 1934-2013 [Re: argerichfan]
bmbutler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/10
Posts: 226
Loc: North Carolina
Hardly.
_________________________
Bachelor of Music (church music)
Master of Church Music (organ, music education)
Piano Teacher since 1992
Church Musician since 1983

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#2043058 - 03/04/13 09:50 PM Re: Van Cliburn 1934-2013 [Re: Kreisler]
vers la flan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/11
Posts: 151
Quote:
[The Tchaikovsky Competition] was the first international competition to be held in Moscow, and it was vital that it should be won by a Soviet pianist. But during the preliminary rounds it was Van Cliburn who played best. He was miles better than any of the others. He was talented, he played with sincerity, even if he swamped Prokofiev's Sixth Sonata with too much pedal and adopted wrong tempi in the Tchaikovsky Concerto. By giving a zero mark to all but three of the other candidates [...], I'd decided to eliminate the others and leave only him. The public had in any case fallen madly in love with Van Cliburn and they were ecstatic when he won."


--from "Sviatoslav Richter: Notebooks and Conversations."

My understanding is that the judges were instructed to score on a scale of 1-10. Richter, as noted, doled out mostly zeroes and to Cliburn, 100.

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#2043243 - 03/05/13 08:25 AM Re: Van Cliburn 1934-2013 [Re: argerichfan]
bmbutler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/10
Posts: 226
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Googling Cliburn today, I was led to an independent Baptist web site which was very honest about his sexuality.

Of major interest:

Cliburn was also Broadway’s [Broadway Baptist Church] most famous gay member, though little was said about his private life except for a palimony lawsuit brought against him in 1996 that was eventually dismissed. In 2009, the Southern Baptist Convention revoked the church’s membership after an unprecedented investigation by SBC leaders into whether media reports about the congregation’s inclusiveness placed it in violation of a policy banning churches that "act to affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior."

SBC, American Neanderthals.


Hardly. Just standing up for their beliefs. Always interests me how one side can call names and beat their chest for their beliefs, and then turn around and ridicule someone or some entity for doing the same.
_________________________
Bachelor of Music (church music)
Master of Church Music (organ, music education)
Piano Teacher since 1992
Church Musician since 1983

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#2044006 - 03/06/13 03:37 PM Re: Van Cliburn 1934-2013 [Re: Kreisler]
loveschopintoomuch Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/05/06
Posts: 4690
Loc: Illinois
If we were, indeed, to judge a pianist's success on the number of performances and the money earned, then Chopin, himself, would have to be deemed a failure. He gave very, very few concerts and most of them were private. And, of course, he died destitude.

Of course, most people think of Chopin as a composer not a pianist, and yet he was one of the most revered pianist of his day. His playing, according to many primary sources, was magical, like none other...and that included the mighty Liszt.

It was only Schumann who first judged him a genius and soon afterward, others followed in this opinion.

Kathleen
_________________________
After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891

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#2048448 - 03/14/13 10:34 PM Re: Van Cliburn 1934-2013 [Re: Kreisler]
P I A N O piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/30/07
Posts: 425
Loc: Ann Arbor, Michigan
The University Musical Society (University of Michigan) honored Van Cliburn in the very first Ford Honors Program in 1996 (I believe that was the year.) He was also had a huge presence at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. During the Ford Honors Prelude Dinner, I was lucky to meet him and I actually shook his rather large hand- we shared comments on "finger independence" exercises and that kind of thing. He encouraged me to play again. I was star struck! I will never forget it!
_________________________
Chopin, Polonaise in C sharp minor, Etude in E major;
Bach, Toccata in e minor BWV 914;
Debussy, Snow is Dancing;
Schubert, Moments Musicaux,No.4 in C Sharp Minor;
Beethoven, Sonata no. 15 in D major, op. 28 (Pastoral)
teacher: Katherine Teves Mizruchi, Ann Arbor, MI
Steinway B

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#2059008 - 04/04/13 03:11 AM Re: Van Cliburn 1934-2013 [Re: Kreisler]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
This clip is really about Rosina Lhévinne, but it features Van talking about her.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfV7Oltqih8
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#2073199 - 04/28/13 11:11 PM Re: Van Cliburn 1934-2013 [Re: Kreisler]
Joey Townley Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/17/04
Posts: 247
Loc: Los Angeles
In the 80's I nearly bought tickets for his comeback when was touring with the Tch 1st on the 1st half of the concert and the Rach 3 on the 2nd half. Then he started canceling the Rach 3 and substituting various piano solos so I skipped because I really wanted to hear him do the 3rd. Does anybody have any info as to why he cancelled the Rach 3?

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