R.I.P Van Cliburn

Van Cliburn, the internationally celebrated pianist whose triumph at a 1958 Moscow competition helped thaw the Cold War and launched a spectacular career that made him the rare classical musician to enjoy rock-star status, has died. He was 78.

Cliburn died early Wednesday at his Fort Worth home surrounded by loved ones following a battle with bone cancer, said his publicist and longtime friend Mary Lou Falcone.

Cliburn made what would be his last public appearance in September at the 50th anniversary of the prestigious piano competition named for him. Speaking to the audience in Fort Worth, he saluted the many past contestants, the orchestra and the city.

"Never forget: I love you all from the bottom of my heart, forever," he said to a roaring standing ovation.
 

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