Shreveport lost one of its favorite sons today when Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn, died at his home in Fort Worth, Texas. He was diagnosed with advanced bone cancer last August. He died in the early morning at his home, very peacefully, surrounded by his loved ones, according to the Thompson's Harveson Cole Funeral Home.
Born in Shreveport July 12, 1934, Cliburn only lived here until he was 6, when his family moved from their South Highlands home to Kilgore, Texas. But he never forgot his Shreveport roots, and through the years came back and shared his remarkable talent.
His mother, Rildia Bee Cliburn, was his first piano teacher, starting lessons when Cliburn was only 3. His father's work took the family to Kilgore, Texas, where he continued perfecting his skills. Cliburn won his first Texas competition when he was only 12 and at 14, won the National Music Festival Award and played in Carnegie Hall.
He went on to make his orchestral debut with the Houston Symphony Orchestra at age 12, and after graduating from Kilgore High School in 1951, he went on to study at the famed Julliard School in New York City at the age of 17.
According to NBCDFW.com, Cliburn was a 23-year-old fresh-faced, wavy-haired kid from Texas when in 1958 -- at the height of the Cold War -- he sealed his spot in history when he won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.
His performance earned him an 8-minute standing ovation and the judge's praises. Time Magazine declared him "The Texan Who Conquered Russia."
Worldwide fame, including a ticker-tape parade in New York, and full concert houses, including a performance at Carnegie Hall, followed. The recording of Cliburn's performance of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto sold more than three million copies and was the first classical recording to reach platinum recording status.
After the win in Moscow Cliburn skyrocketed to fame.He has performed for every president since Harry Truman, and for years devoted his time to the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.