Van Cliburn became an international cultural hero when he won a Cold War-era piano competition in the Soviet Union and then rocketed to unheard-of stardom for a classical musician in the U.S. Mr. Cliburn, who died Wednesday at age 78 near Fort Worth, Texas, stunned the world in 1958 when, soon after the Soviet Union had launched the first satellite in orbit, he won that country´s first International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition—intended to showcase Soviet talent. The same year, his recording of Tchaikovsky´s Piano Concerto No. 1 became the first classical album to sell more than a million copies.
After being gone from this forum for several months because of a medical problem (chronic cluster headaches), I must return to pay homage to this great musician and equally great gentleman, whom I met in my own living room in October 1964, when my parents headed the Nashville Symphony Guild. (I was a classically trained pianist from early childhood, as was my sister and my mother before.)
Mr. Cliburn soared to worldwide fame by winning the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in 1958, playing Tchaikovsky´s iconic First Piano Concerto, followed by Rachmaninoff´s nearly impossible Third Piano Concerto, leaving Khrushchev´s judges in a quandary, which they solved by just awarding him first prize. After all, everyone there knew that he had earned it. Since then, he has been from one end of the world to the other, pleasing and amazing audiences. When the Gorbachevs visited the White House in 1986, it was only natural that the Reagans would invite Mr. Cliburn to provide the musical entertainment.
What´s greatest about music and athletics is that these activities transcend politics and unite people from totally incompatible political backgrounds. Music is a universal language, and Mr. Cliburn was a musical ambassador.
(My piano teacher once told me that big hands were clumsy. Knowing what she was getting at--Vladimir Howowitz´s hands, for instance, were normal sized, like mine--I got irritated, and responded, "Mr. Cliburn´s hands are not clumsy!" He could span thirteen notes; I can span one octave, or eight notes.)
May this good man rest in peace. We will not see the likes of him again.
This is off topic, but last night I was telling someone about how I was preparing for the future and how the re-election of Obama changed my whole perspective on life. Part of the discussion was the disappearance from ldot of several of our valued friends, including hazymac and photoonist.
I am thinking that, for my own sanity, I will need to shut off my internet connection once I get to a place in life where I can live without it (I´m not there yet because I still live here in the US). I hope all is well for those who have disengaged. I am very happy to see this contribution from hazymac and wanted to express my respect for his will power to disengage. Its a loss for us in the ldot family, but I hope its working out well for him. We each must do what makes the most out of the rest of our lives given that it doesn´t look like we´ll ever get back to a country we once loved.
American presidents should avoid shaking the hand of dictators, especially those that have American blood on theirs. One example of many: Raul Castro was Minister of Defense in 1996 when Cuban Air Force MiGs, cold-bloodedly and over international airspace, destroyed two civilian U.S. airplanes with four American rescue workers on board. President Clinton rightly condemned the attack as cowardly, while Raul Castro decorated his pilots for bravery. That incident alone illustrates the difference between the two systems that are embodied in the two leaders. President Obama seems unaware of the importance of his office or of the mantle of honor
Before we all forget about the latest spat between Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the banks, before it’s downgraded to an anecdote in Game Change III: The Changeling, let’s reflect on how the media got dragged into it and covered the story on Warren’s terms. Short version: Two honchos at the center-left think tank Third Way wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed warning that a proposal to expand Social Security was foolishness and “economic populism is a dead end for Democrats.” A clutch of progressives—or, if you prefer, economic populists—demanded that elected Democrats distance themselves from the op-ed. The senior senator
Fresh questions about Steve Jobs’ liver transplant have been raised after it emerged that the doctor who performed the surgery spent two years in the Memphis, Tenn., house Jobs bought for his recovery. Dr. James Eason, who performed the March 2009 liver transplant, moved into the palatial house Jobs bought for his recovery just a few months after the operation, according to a report. It isn’t the first time questions have been raised over whether Jobs, a California resident, received an unfair advantage in landing the Memphis transplant. Eason lived in the house in midtown Memphis for two years before
Dan Rather was once among the most powerful figures in American media. Which is why watching him today is a particularly poignant and painful thing. Consider Mr. Rather’s appearance with CNN’s Piers Morgan Monday night. When asked about the recent, erroneous Benghazi report on 60 Minutes that led to a leave of absence for reporter Lara Logan, Rather compared that story to the one that ruined his career: “With our story, the one that led to our difficulty, no question the story was true. What the complaint… was ‘Okay, your story was true, but the way you got to the truth was
The presidential helicopter landed in the small town of Orania, South Africa. It was August, 1995. The President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, had come for tea. Tea with Betsie Verwoerd, the 94-year old widow of South Africa’s former Prime Minister, Hendrik Verwoerd. It was Mrs. Verwoerd’s husband who, as noted here in this story from the Christian Science Monitor, was known as the “architect of apartheid” — the disgraceful policy of racial segregation that Mandela was famously imprisoned for fighting. The reason for the overwhelming tidal wave of emotion and celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy in South
If you run a police state such as North Korea (a.k.a. “The People’s Republic of North Korea”) publicity is almost always bad, so you avoid it if possible. There are occasional exceptions and the North Korea authorities spotted one a month ago. A guided tour group was about to leave after a week’s visit when, in a last-minute review of the passenger list, an operative noticed that one of the visitors had not only been a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War, but also may have been in counter-intelligence. With that, they took Merrill Newman, a retired California businessman,
President Barack Obama’s expected 10-minute speech at Nelson Mandela’s memorial will cost taxpayers at least $500,000 per minute. That’s not counting any cakes and coffee he and his inner circle consume aboard Air Force One during the 18,000-mile round trip to Johannesburg, via Dakar, in Senegal. The 28-hour two-way flight will cost $5 million because the four-engined Boeing 747 costs roughly $180,000 an hour to operate, according to a May 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service. The cost includes jet fuel and subsequent maintenance of the aircraft’s engines, electronics and hotel-class facilities. Obama has been accompanied by the First Lady, Attorney General Eric
On his way to the podium at the memorial ceremony for former South African president Nelson Mandela, President Obama walked down the line of dignitaries, greeting other leaders there to pay their respects. Among the hands shaken: that of Cuban leader Raul Castro. Obama neither made a special effort to shake Castro’s hand nor to avoid him. A snub might have been awkward: In his speech, Obama praised Mandela’s “greatest gift” as “his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by
The Obama State Department has finally released a second round of photos revealing the harrowing devastation wrought by a terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012. The new photographs depict rampant damage to the consulate. They show charred walls, smoldering fires, Arabic graffiti defacing exterior walls, and scattered debris throughout. The extent of the damage would lead any reasonably serious person to conclude that this was a cold, calculated attack, carefully coordinated to mark the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. Unfortunately for the American people, the Obama-Clinton-Rice cabal that led to the Benghazi cover-up was
A “presidential selfie” featuring President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service began making the rounds this morning, but it’s the person not included in the frame who caught everyone’s attention: As anyone with two eyes and a Twitter account has noticed, Michelle Obama does not appear amused. Of course, though a picture says a thousand words, not all of those words are necessarily true. FLOTUS might not have even known the photo was taking place. Or she could disapprove of funeral selfies. Either way.
A black fashion student says he was brutally attacked by a gang of Hasidic men who shouted anti-gay slurs at him while he was walking through Williamsburg after a night of partying, the Daily News has learned. Taj Patterson, 22, was headed home to Fort Greene around 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 1 when he says more than a dozen ultra-Orthodox Jewish men began assaulting him on Flushing Ave. and yelling, “Stay down, f----t!”
Just how much do many Hollywood liberals hate conservatives? In an interview with Playboy, Ben Affleck said, "When I watch a guy [on film] I know is a big Republican, part of me thinks, I probably wouldn’t like this person if I met him": PLAYBOY: You developed a political profile campaigning for presidential candidates Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama. How did that come about? AFFLECK: I grew up in a house with a mother who was a teacher and a Freedom Rider—very left-wing Democrats living in a heterogeneous working-class neighborhood. I picked up a lot of those values there, and I
MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry opened her program over the weekend with a commentary about the Affordable Care Act’s colloquial moniker: “Obamacare.” She said that the word was originally created as a “derogatory term,” designed by white men as a way to delegitimize President Barack Obama and his achievement. However, she said that the term will soon be synonymous with all of Obama’s accomplishments and she urged her audience to use the term with pride. “I want to talk today about a controversial word. It’s a word that has been with us for years, and like it or not, it’s indelibly
President Obama, former president George W. Bush and their wives departed Washington Monday morning on Air Force One on their way to a memorial service in South Africa for Nelson Mandela. The president and first lady Michelle Obama are being accompanied by Mr. Bush, former first lady Laura Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the flight to Johannesburg. A four-hour memorial service will be held on Tuesday for South Africa’s first black president. Mr. Mandela, the anti-apartheid revolutionary, died on Thursday at age 95. Former President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea are traveling separately to South Africa. Former President