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Cliburn Diagnosed With Cancer

obama-cliburn.jpg
National Endowment for the Arts
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Van Cliburn receives the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama at the White House on March 2, 2011.

Legendary Fort Worth pianist Van Cliburn has bone cancer. KERA’s Bill Zeeble reports it was diagnosed about a week and a half ago.

The news was brief and to the point. Long time friend and Cliburn publicist Mary Lou Falcone issued the statement saying the musician was diagnosed with advanced bone cancer.

Falcone: He is under excellent care and resting comfortably at home. His spirits are high. We ask that his privacy be respected.

KERA’s relationship with Cliburn and the Cliburn Foundation goes back decades. For many years, the station has presented award winning documentaries about the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, held every four years.

It was Cliburn’s astonishing victory at the 1958 International Tchaikovsky Competition that catapulted him to world fame. At the height of the cold war, just months after Sputnik, the young American defeated all players, including the Russians, in the prestigious music competition.

Van Cliburn received a ticker-tape parade in New York City. He became one of RCA’s most successful classical artists.

The International Piano competition named for him was launched in Fort Worth in 1962, and celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

LINK: Van Cliburn Foundation

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.