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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

Van Cliburn passes away at 78


Good evening, Netizens...


Another of our American piano greats, Van Cliburn, died yesterday ostensibly of bone cancer, and I admit there will always be a soft spot in my heart for this Texas-born piano prodigy. There for a time, back in my youth, they made Cliburn a cultural icon, and he ended up playing for every American President since Harry Truman.


His recording of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with Russian conductor Kirill Kondrashin ( became the first classical album to reach platinum status. Why let the awards end there? President George W. Bush presented Cliburn with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian honor – in 2003 and his hands were still as rock-solid on the keyboard then as when he was in his twenties.


Talent, we are reminded by our history, is seldom so lavishly given to us as it is taken away. Rest in Peace.




Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.