The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
A pianist is a musician who plays the piano. A professional pianist can perform solo pieces, play with an ensemble or orchestra, or accompany one or more singers, solo instrumentalists, or other performers.-Choice of genres:...
who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958 at age 23, when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition
International Tchaikovsky Competition
The International Tchaikovsky Competition is a classical music competition held every four years in Moscow, Russia for pianists, violinists, and cellists between 16 and 30 years of age, and singers between 19 and 32 years of age...
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...
, at the height of the Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...
Van Cliburn was born in Shreveport
Shreveport is the third largest city in Louisiana. It is the principal city of the fourth largest metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana and is the 109th-largest city in the United States....
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...
, and began taking piano lessons at the age of three from his mother, Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn. O'Bryan was taught by Arthur Friedheim
Arthur Friedheim was a Russian-born pianist, conductor and composer who was one of Franz Liszt's foremost pupils.Friedheim was born in Saint Petersburg in 1859. He began serious study of music at age eight...
, a pupil of Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...
. At six years old, Cliburn moved with his family to Kilgore, Texas
Kilgore is a city in Gregg and Rusk Counties in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Texas. It is the home of Kilgore College, and was also the childhood home of famous classical pianist Van Cliburn...
, and at twelve he won a statewide piano competition which enabled him to debut with the Houston Symphony Orchestra
Houston Symphony Orchestra
The Houston Symphony is an American orchestra based in Houston, Texas. Since 1966, it has performed at the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts in downtown Houston....