Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Master Session Cliburn Has Tips for Young Fans in a Visit Here

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Master Session Cliburn Has Tips for Young Fans in a Visit Here

Article excerpt

SOME YOUNG MOTHERS brought their children to meet Van Cliburn Sunday at the Steinway Piano Gallery in Maryland Heights, figuring they'd get an autograph and perhaps a chance to get a photo taken with America's most famous concert pianist.

They got much more.

Hsiuching Chen waited patiently in a long line for the chance to have Cliburn smile upon her two daughters.

Chen, who came to the United States seven years ago from Taiwan, explained to the famed musician that she was having the age-old problem of trying to get her 8-year-old daughter to practice her piano.

"Our natural instinct is not to do it," Cliburn said. "We must make ourselves do it."

He said he didn't know what would have become of him had his parents not made him practice.

"They knew I had the natural ability and inclination," he said. "But as a human being, I was lazy. You can't be lazy with classical music."

In 1958, at the age of 23, Cliburn played concertos by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff at the first Moscow Tchaikovsky International Competition.

He was the victor, and came home to a ticker-tape parade in New York, a first for a classical music artist.

Since 1962, Cliburn has presided over the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, and his recording of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 was the first classical album to sell one million copies in the United States.

Cliburn, 61, was at the store Sunday for about four hours. More than 300 people stopped by to see him.

He signed autographs, posed for photos and spent time with everyone who came his way. Everything he said seemed to bring an understanding nod or an appreciative sigh.

"The study of music as a language will help you with any subject you want to study," Cliburn said.

"Plato said the highest form of mathematics is music. It combines order and discipline and organization, and stimulates both side of the brain. …

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