A Taste of Van Cliburn

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Legendary pianist Van Cliburn recently talked to Scott Simon about winning the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow 50 years ago. The full interview is scheduled to play on Weekend Edition Saturday March 1.


Next week on WEEKEND EDITION, we have an exclusive interview with Van Cliburn, 50 years after he shocked the music world and blew a breath of warmth into the Cold War by winning the first International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. Half a century later, Van Cliburn rarely performs in public, but he does play every night, usually quite late and all alone.

(Soundbite of piano)

Mr. VAN CLIBURN (Pianist): When you practice the piano and when you play a concert, it is totally different. Because when you practice, it's like washing and cleaning and scrubbing, and it's very hard work and - you're because you're trying. And the more you work, sometimes it's - you see how much more work you have to do, and that can be discouraging.

So then the next day you try not to be discouraged because you know that - as Rachmaninoff said once, he was always so aware of his inadequacies, and if he ever was able to practice enough to make himself play the way he would want to, he'd probably drop dead the next day.

So, I think that's how you always feel. He also had another saying that I love so much: that the horizon is always receding in art. And that is so true. He also said that music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.

SIMON: Next week, Van Cliburn on WEEKEND EDITION.

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