Acclaimed American pianist Van Cliburn died this morning in Fort Worth, Texas at the age of 78. Mr Cliburn skyrocketed to fame after winning the first Tchaikovsky International Competition in 1958 when he was only 23 years old. Given a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan, Van Cliburn’s award held in Moscow “was viewed as an American triumph over the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war” turning him into a “cultural celebrity of pop-star dimensions.” He was born in Shreveport, Louisiana and started studying piano with his mother when he was three years old – by the age of four he was playing in student recitals. In great demand during the 1950s, Van Cliburn stopped performing in concerts in 1978. His last public performance was to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Van Cliburn Foundation. Check the EPL catalog for recordings and books. You can read the full obituary in today’s New York Times.