Famed Pianist Van Cliburn Dead at 78
Texan's 1958 performance helped thaw Cold War
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 27, 2013 11:24 AM CST
Updated Feb 27, 2013 11:45 AM CST

(Newser) – The renowned American classical pianist Van Cliburn has died at age 78. His publicist and longtime friend Mary Lou Falcone said that Cliburn died this morning after a battle with bone cancer. She'd announced in late August that Cliburn had been diagnosed with advanced cancer and was being cared for at his home in Fort Worth. Cliburn's triumph at a Moscow competition in 1958 helped thaw the Cold War and launched a spectacular international career.

Cliburn skyrocketed to fame after winning the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow at age 23. He returned to a New York ticker tape parade, a first for a classical musician. He's performed for every president since Harry Truman, and for years devoted his time to the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.