A Taste of Van Cliburn

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.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

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.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.