Queer Places:
Greenwood Memorial Park and Mausoleum Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas, USA

Image result for Van CliburnHarvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn Jr. (July 12, 1934 – February 27, 2013)[1] was an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958, at the age of 23, when he won the inaugural quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow during the Cold War.[2][3]

His mother, an accomplished pianist and piano teacher, discovered him playing at age three and mimicking one of her students. She arranged for him to start taking lessons.[2] He developed a rich, round tone and a singing voice-like phrasing, having been taught from the start to sing each piece.[2]

Van Cliburn toured domestically and overseas. He played for royalty, heads of state, and every U.S. president from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama.[4]

In 1998, Cliburn was named in a lawsuit by his domestic partner of 17 years, mortician Thomas Zaremba.[25] In the suit, Zaremba claimed entitlement to a portion of Cliburn's income and assets and asserted that he may have been exposed to HIV, causing emotional distress. The claims were rebutted by a trial court and upheld by an appellate court,[26] on the basis that palimony suits are not permitted in the state of Texas unless the relationship is based on a written agreement.

Cliburn was known as a night owl. He often practiced until 4:30 or 5 a.m., waking around 1:30 p.m.[27] "You feel like you're alone and the world's asleep, and it's very inspiring."[28]

On August 27, 2012, Cliburn's publicist announced that the pianist had advanced prostate cancer with widespread bone metastases. He underwent treatment and was "resting comfortably at home" in Fort Worth, where he received around-the-clock care.[29][30] Cliburn died on February 27, 2013, at the age of seventy-eight.[31]

Cliburn was a member of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth and attended regularly when he was in town.[32] His services were held on March 3, 2013, at the Broadway Baptist Church with entombment at Greenwood Memorial Park Mausoleum in Fort Worth.[14] His obituary lists as his only survivor his "friend of longstanding", Thomas J. Smith.[14]

The Wall Street Journal said on his death that Cliburn was a "cultural hero" who "rocketed to unheard-of stardom for a classical musician in the U.S."[2] Calling him "the rare classical musician to enjoy rock star status", the Associated Press on his death noted the 1958 Time magazine cover story that likened him to "Horowitz, Liberace, and Presley all rolled into one".[10]

A year after Cliburn's death, a free anniversary concert was held on February 27, 2014, in his honor in downtown Fort Worth. "It's part of the Cliburn ideology of sharing the music with the larger audience," said Jacques Marquis, the Cliburn Foundation president. Cliburn lent his name to the International Piano Competition, which he viewed as a gathering of classical masterpieces played by young gifted artists.[33]


  1. Tommasini, Anthony (February 27, 2013). "Van Cliburn, Cold War Musical Envoy, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  2. Maloney, Jennifer (February 27, 2013). "Famed Pianist Van Cliburn Dies". The Wall Street Journal.
  3. Page, Tim (February 27, 2013). "Van Cliburn, celebrated classical pianist, dies at 78". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  4. Clinton, Hillary Rodham (November 29, 2000). An Invitation To The White House: At Home With History. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-684-85799-2.
  5. "CLIBURN, RILDIA BEE O'BRYAN | The Handbook of Texas Online| Texas State Historical Association (TSHA)". Tshaonline.org. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  6. [1] Archived January 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. "American piano great Van Cliburn dies at 78". CBC News. Associated Press. February 27, 2013. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  8. Marquis Who's Who
  9. Tommasini, Anthony (February 27, 2013). "Van Cliburn, Cold War Musical Envoy, Dies at 78". The New York Times.
  10. "Van Cliburn dies; American classical pianist was 78". Associated Press (via Fox News). February 27, 2013.
  11. Nicholas, Jeremy (February 28, 2013). "Obituary: Van Cliburn, pianist". Gramophone Records. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  12. Dave Montgomery, Dave (March 1, 2013). "Son of Nikita Khrushchev recalls Van Cliburn's triumph in Moscow". Star Telegraph.
  13. "Show Business: Van's Big Year". Time. October 6, 1958.
  14. "Van Cliburn obituary". The Times. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  15. Adams, Val (April 25, 1958). "CLIBURN IS SIGNED BY ALLEN TV SHOW". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  16. RIAA Gold and Platinum database retrieved 26 February 2017
  17. "About Van Cliburn". Van Cliburn Foundation. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  18. "American College of Musicians". Pianoguild.com. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  19. "Obituary: Van Cliburn". The Daily Telegraph. February 27, 2013.
  20. "Johannes Brahms, Sergey Rachmaninov, Kiril Kondrashin, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Van Cliburn – Van Cliburn in Moscow – Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 / Rachmaninoff: Paganini Rhapsody – Amazon.com Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  21. "Pianist Van Cliburn honored with the National Medal of Arts". McClatchy DC. March 2, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  22. Recipients
  23. President Obama to Award 2010 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal
  24. "Simon & Garfunkel song among those to be preserved". CFN13. Archived from the original on April 10, 2013. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  25. Rapp, Linda. "Cliburn, Van". glbtq.com. Archived from the original on February 13, 2008. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
  26. "949 S.W.2d 822 (Tex.App.--Ft. Worth 1997)".
  27. Rogers, Mary (May 18, 1997). "A Midnight Conversation with Van Cliburn" (PDF). Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 20, 2012. Retrieved August 18, 2009.
  28. Van Cliburn (March 1, 2008). "Van Cliburn: Treasuring Moscow After 50 Years". Weekend Edition Saturday (Interview: Audio). Interview with Scott Simon. Fort Worth & New York: National Public Radio. Retrieved March 1, 2008.
  29. Jerome Weeks (August 27, 2012). "Van Cliburn Diagnosed With Bone Cancer". Art & Seek (KERA). NPR. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  30. Wakin, Daniel (August 27, 2012). "Van Cliburn Has Advanced Bone Cancer". The New York Times. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  31. "American pianist Van Cliburn, whose 1958 triumph at a Moscow competition impressed world, dies". The Washington Post. Associated Press. February 27, 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2013.[dead link]
  32. Madigan, Tim (March 1, 2013). "Van Cliburn: 'The Texan Who Conquered Russia'". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  33. "Cliburn memorial concert marks anniversary of pianist's death". WWNORadio. Retrieved February 28, 2014.