FORT WORTH, Texas, March 3, 2022—Today, the Cliburn releases the following official statement:
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is reprehensible and heartbreaking. The Cliburn stands firmly against and condemns this tyranny. The Russian-born pianists who have applied for the Sixteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition are not officials of their government, nor is their participation in the Cliburn state-sponsored. Therefore, in the vision of our namesake and inspiration, Van Cliburn, and our mandate to support young artists—which is the very core of our mission—the Russian-born pianists will be allowed to audition for the Cliburn Competition.
The story of Van Cliburn and his Cold War victory at the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow inspired the world as a testament to the transcendence of art, even at the most tense of times between two superpowers. As he himself said: “Since we know that classical music is timeless and everlasting, it is precisely the eternal verities inherent in classical music that remain a spiritual beacon for people all over the world.”
Of the 72 pianists invited to take part in next week’s Screening Auditions for the 2022 Cliburn Competition, 15 are Russian-born; eight of those currently reside in Moscow. These young, brilliant artists have worked their way through an intense and complicated situation to ensure they would be able to come to Fort Worth for their chance to compete on one of classical music’s biggest stages—for their chance to live their dreams.
They have spent the better part of their lives preparing for this opportunity. The stakes are high. One of our current applicants sent us this note this week: “I hope that the great positive impact Maestro Van Cliburn had on the course of the Cold War should be an excellent example for all the artists.” And another: “I pray we give music a chance to be the ambassador of peace and love it has always been.” We look forward to hearing each of our participants do just that.
ABOUT THE SCREENING AUDITIONS
The Screening Auditions of the Sixteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will take place March 6–12, 2022, in PepsiCo Recital Hall on campus at TCU. Seventy-two pianists representing 22 countries were selected from a record-breaking applicant pool of 388 to come to Fort Worth to audition. The Auditions are open to the public and are free to attend. For the full schedule, details, and pianist list, visit cliburn.org/2022screeningauditions.
ABOUT THE CLIBURN COMPETITION
Widely considered one of the preeminent international music contests, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (sixteenth edition, June 2–18, 2022) exists to share excellent classical music with the largest international audience possible and to launch the careers of its winners every four years. Building on a rich tradition that began with its 1962 origins in honor of Van Cliburn and his vision for using music to serve audiences and break down boundaries, the Cliburn seeks, with each edition, to achieve the highest artistic standards while utilizing contemporary tools to advance its reach. The world’s top young pianists compete for gold in front of a live audience in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as a global online viewership of more than 10 million. Beyond cash prizes, winning a Cliburn medal means comprehensive career management, artistic support, and bolstered publicity efforts for the three years following. For full details about the 2022 Competition, visit: cliburn.org/2022-cliburn-competition. Click for a selection of Cliburn Competition photos.
ABOUT VAN CLIBURN
Van Cliburn (1934–2013) was an American hero and an international icon for over five decades. He was heralded by U.S. Presidents, world leaders, the international press, and a vast, adoring public as one of the most persuasive ambassadors of American culture, as well as one of the greatest pianists in the history of music. He was beloved not only for his momentous gift as a brilliant musician, but also for his transcendent spirit as a great humanitarian.
At the height of the Cold War in 1958, Van Cliburn—a 23-year-old Texan—won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, a contest designed to demonstrate Soviet cultural superiority on the heels of the country’s launch of Sputnik. When it was time to announce a winner, the judges asked permission of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to give first prize to an American. “Is he the best?” Khrushchev asked. “Then give him the prize!” Cliburn returned home to a ticker-tape parade in New York City, the only time the honor has been bestowed on a musician.
The cover of Time magazine proclaimed him “The Texan Who Conquered Russia,” later saying that the “long-legged” pianist “had overnight become the object of the most explosive single outpouring of popular acclaim ever accorded a U.S. musician.” Instant fame begat a career that included many historical achievements: the first Grammy® for classical music; the first classical album to go triple platinum; record-breaking concert ticket sales at venues such as New York’s Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden, Chicago’s Grant Park, and Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl; and performances for every President of the United States from Harry Truman to Barack Obama, and royalty and heads of state from around the world.
Over the course of his lifetime, he was honored with a multitude of accolades, among them Kennedy Center Honors, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Russia’s Order of Friendship, and the United States’ Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Arts. In 1962, a dedicated group of Fort Worth volunteers held the First Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in his honor; the competition is now widely recognized as one of the most prestigious in the world.
Harvey Lavan “Van” Cliburn, Jr., was born in Shreveport, La. on July 12, 1934. He began piano studies at the age of 3 with his mother, Rildia Bee O’Bryan Cliburn, made his orchestral debut at 12, and his Carnegie Hall debut two years later. In 1951, he enrolled in The Juilliard School, studying under Madame Rosina Lhévinne, who encouraged him to apply for the International Tchaikovsky Competition.
ABOUT THE CLIBURN
The Cliburn advances classical piano music throughout the world. Its international competitions, education programs, and concert series embody an enduring commitment to artistic excellence and the discovery of new artists. Established in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1962, the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (sixteenth edition, June 2–18, 2022) remains the most visible expression of that mission and is, as always, committed to its original ideals of supporting and launching the careers of emerging artists, ages 18–30. It shares the transformative powers of music with a wide global audience, through fully produced webcasts and by providing comprehensive career management and concert bookings to its winners. Rounding out its mission, the Cliburn also produces the Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival (third edition, June 8–17, 2023) for exceptional 13- to 17-year-old pianists and the Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition (eighth edition, October 12–18, 2022) for outstanding non-professional pianists age 35 and older.
Over a four-year cycle, the Cliburn contributes to North Texas’ cultural landscape with over 170 classical music performances for 150,000 attendees through competitions, free community concerts, and its signature Cliburn Concerts series. It presents 1,000 Cliburn in the Classroom in-school, interactive music education programs for more than 200,000 area elementary students. During the same time period, it garners the world’s attention with over eight million visits from 170 nations for live concert and competition webcasts; 300 concerts worldwide booked for competition winners; more than 5,000 news articles about the Cliburn and its winners; and regular national radio broadcasts to 245 public radio stations. Cliburn.org