Texan Wins Tchaikovsky Piano Contest in Moscow
Texan Wins Tchaikovsky Piano Contest In Moscow MOSCOW--W--Van Cliburn, a 6-foot-4 Texan whose piano playing excited the Russians even more than their own products, today was named the winer of a grueling international music contest that drew contestants from all over the world. The 23-year-old pianist from Kilgore, Tex., was one of two Americans who reached the finals of the Tchaikovsky international piano competition. Daniel Pollack of Los Ange'es was rated last among nine finalists. Even before Cliburn played in the finals Friday night, music-loving Muscovites had heard of his keyboard skill. They jammed the hall for his appearance and called him back for an encore despite contest rules against it. Cliburn, who won 25,000 rubles (officially $6,250) as first prize and a short concert tour in the Soviet Union, said he was exhausted but happy when the news was leaked to him and the other winners late last night. They learned about their prizes when the Soviet government askec them to remain at the conservatory to appear for documentary film shots of the contest. Soviet pianist Emii Gilels, the chairman of the judges' panel formally announced the results this morning and kissed the lanky curly headed blond Texas winner on both cheeks. Other contestants and fans jamming the small hal in the Moscow Conservatory applauded wildly and chanted Cliburn's name, and he blew a kiss back in thanks. Gilels said the jury's decision was unanimous and went to "the most merited of the merited." He congratulated . the schools of the countries from which the finalists came. In Kilgore, Cliburn's mother, a onetime concert pianist who taught her son until he went to New York to study in 1951, said she and her husband Harvey, an oil company executive, were thrilled to death. Cliburn's New York teacher was Rosina Lhevinne, who studied at the Moscow Conservatory in pre- revolution days. Cliburn began playing the piano at the age of 3. He won his first contest in Texas at 12--playing the Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1 that was one of the pieces in the Moscow competition. He also played the Tchaikovsky Concerto at his debut with the New York Philharmonic, where he will return this fall for four concerts. He was originally booked for only one, but the engagement was ex- tended after he did so brilliantly in Moscow. He had scheduled a tour of European concert halls iv February and March but canceled it to prepare for the contest. Cliburn drafted into-the U.S. Army in but released after two days because of what doctors described a blood condition. Pollack, who came to Moscow with his wife for the competition, finished his final round last night. He said he and Cliburn both lost about 10 pounds during the and added that he wanted to for 20 years.