American pianist Van Cliburn has passed away at the age of 78. Cliburn won the top prize at the 1958 Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow at the age of 23. It was a victory for the U.S. over the Soviets during the Cold War, catapulting the young man into a celebrity. He was even welcomed back to New York City with a ticker-tape parade and 100,000 people. A pianist as popular as Justin Bieber? That doesn’t happen anymore. He had been suffering from bone cancer.
CULTURAL ICON Van Cliburn in 1959. (AP)