Farewell, Van Cliburn

As it reads on the YouTube Classical Channel: “Рахманинов, Концерт № 2 для фортепиано – Ван Клиберн.”

Rachmaninoff, Concerto No. 2 for Piano — Van Cliburn.

This one’s for my parents. For my late dad, who knew Cliburn back in Texas in the Fifties, before Cliburn won the Tchaikovsky Competition. And for my mom… if you ever find that record of you playing the Rachmaninoff 1st, I need to hear it.

This is my favorite piano concerto. It surpasses even the Brahms Second. I sometimes listen to music while I write, but I can’t listen to this, because it sweeps me away. After watching Cliburn bring it to life, my heart’s pounding and I want to cry tears of joy.

Back in the summer of 1991, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, my mom and I watched CNN as Boris Yeltsin climbed on a tank and faced down a coup attempt in Moscow. One of the CNN commentators said that the coup was bound to succeed because the Russian people were passive and apathetic, trained to be subservient and dull. My mother became irate at his ignorance. “Hasn’t this man ever heard Russian music? Listen to the power and passion in it, and tell me these people aren’t going to fight.”

I think this is what she was talking about.

6 responses to “Farewell, Van Cliburn

  1. That was incredible Meg. Your post actually gave me goosebumps before I even opened up the video.
    Normally I’m not drawn to classical music, (It’s embarrassing as I’m not a particularly cultured person–very sad, but true) I loved this however. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Well thanks a ton for sharing that, Meg. I’m so impressed there was a film of it. And I love how he jumped up and pulled the conductor into a series of kisses.

    I love love love youtube, and I swear it’s the closest we’ll ever get to a time machine.

  3. Thank you so much, Meg. It was wonderful to be able to see him play this. No one has ever performed it better.

  4. I love this piano concerto: the best piano concerto ever. It’s full of strength and emotion and power (I don’t know how to express it better), and Cliburn’s interpretation is admirable.

  5. Thanks for this, Meg. Want to hear the story someday of what your dad relayed about Van Cliburn.

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