Van Cliburn: was an American hero. He was one of the most persuasive ambassadors of American culture. In 1958, he achieved worldwide recognition at the age of 23, when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow at the height of the Cold War, Van Cliburn tore down cultural barriers years ahead of glasnost and perestroika, transcending politics by demonstrating the universality of classical music.. After that, he gave performances domestically and overseas. Between 1960 and 1972, he toured Soviet Union many times, he also played for royalty, heads of state, and every U.S. president from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama. He is also the founder of Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, a living legacy to Mr. Cliburn's constant efforts to aid the development of young artists.
Kennedy Center Honors in 2001
National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama, in 2010
Cliburn's 1958 piano performance in Moscow when he won the prestigious Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition has been added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress on March 21, 2013 for long-term preservation.