Van Cliburn was honored at Fort Worth Texas, commerating his winning the first Tchaikovsky International in Moscow in April 1958, the height of cold war between those two countries. I have always wondered why did he cut his career short.
One look at his plays at Moscow you’ll fall under his spell: aristocrat (America’s answer to von Karajan?), articulate, apple pie, and armful (picture as if Matt Biondi butterflying in for the Gold medal .. Cliburn is very tall ..). I was immediately charmed by watching the dated video, him playing the Rock 3. His brilliance and elegance belied his youth! He disarmed Khrushchev too: the jurors had to ash Khrushchev’s permission to award an American. Reportedly, K replied:
“Is he the best player? .. then give it to him!” ..
Khrushchev who’s music lover was impressed by VC performing, Chopin’s F minor Fantasy, was K’s favorite.
I’ll have to say that music is in the soul of the average Russians, as is chess. China has Lang Lang and Li Yundi, but is it not in the average Chinese souls, from western standing point. Sure there are plenty Beijing Opera lovers. But for me, listening to that is worst than rock n roll, giving me headache.
The reasons he quit performing – loss to us – were due to deaths of his dad, his powerful manager Hurok in 1974, and also a less pressured life when he could enjoy opera, etc.
“My mother had a gorgeous singing voice,” Mr. Cliburn said.
“She always told me that the first instrument is the human voice. When you are playing the piano, it is not digital. You must find a singing sound, the ‘eye of the sound,’ she called it.”
Nicely said. In life, don’t we all have to find that eye of the sound? In trading too.