Listen: Van Cliburn's 1958 Broadcast Debut from Carnegie Hall

NOTE: Below is the Full Broadcast; Cliburn's Performance Itself Starts at 30:00 in

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 01:52 PM

On May 19, 1958, some five weeks after winning the first Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Van Cliburn gave a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall that was broadcast live on WQXR.

Joined by the Soviet conductor Kiril Kondrashin and the Symphony of the Air, the performance was billed as Cliburn's American broadcast debut and it featured the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor. As encores, he presented a movement of Rachmaninoff's Etude Tableaux Op. 39 and Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 12.

The Symphony of the Air begins the evening with Prokofiev's Classical Symphony.

One senses the audience's excitement in the lengthy ovations at several points during the evening. (Curious aside: host Peter Allen notes that Carnegie had exceeded its capacity of 80 standing room spots that night, violating fire department regulations.)

The concert also features lengthy, somewhat rambling remarks by New York City mayor Robert A. Wagner. He concludes: "we're so proud of what he's done, not only in the field of music, but in the field of international relations, bringing people closer together."

Tune in to WQXR this Sunday at 12 pm for a special one-hour show about Van Cliburn hosted by David Dubal.

Right: Van Cliburn backstage at Carnegie Hall (courtesy of Carnegie Hall Archives).

With production assistance from NYPR Archives, Margaret Kelley and Jeff Spurgeon. 1958 backstage photo, right, courtesy of Carnegie Hall.

Tags:

More in:

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Comments [13]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

IN LIEU OF ALL THE MACHINATIONS OF ERSTWHILE PUBLIC FIGURES WHOSE CLAIM TO FAME IS SOME EYE OR EAR CATCHING SPACED OUT COMMENTARY, WE SHOULD REMEMBER HOW RARE VAN CLIBURN WAS TO HAVE ACHIEVED SO MUCH WITHOUT RAISING RANCOR OR SELF ADVANCING HIMSELF. HE DID NOT HAVE ANY ENEMIES, THOUGH MANY MAT HAVE BEEN JEALOUS OF HIS ATTAINMENTS. HE WAS A REAL "MENSCH." ALL THE WORLD ADMIRED VAN CLIBURN FOR HIS GREAT TALENT AND HIS WARM OUTGOING PERSONA. A JUILLIARD ALUM MYSELF BEFORE HIS LANDMARK TSCHAIKOWSKY TRIUMPH, I, WITH HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS, WATCHED HIS TICKER TAPE PARADE AND MY MOM , BROTHER DR. BEN LANE AND I ATTENDED HIS CARNEGIE HALL CONCERT AND SPOKE WITH HIM AFTERWARD BACKSTAGE. THAT TALL , LANKY HANDSOME TEXAN DID MORE FOR A FRIENDLIER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE RUSSIANS THAN ANY POLITICIAN. THE COLD WAR THREATENING PEACE WAS MADE LESS MENACING. R.I.P. VAN CLIBURN. THE WORLD MOURNS YOUR PASSING.

Mar. 09 2013 01:12 AM

george from NJ- you are certainly a short lived phenomena but Cliburn is not. His artistry, charisma, innocense, and grace. He was an extraordinary talent,praised as a genius by Richter,in USSR, awarded the Levantritt by L.Bernstein,Szell and Rudolf Serkin,in NYC. He conquered America, the Russian people and the world. He will be remembered for a multiplicity of talents, and, since, all artists are exploited by managers,especially those in their twenties, he managed to survive 20 years of that, a tremendous feat, and still rise above his career, as few have, to occupy the real stage, the stage of life. Some people cannot get that- they are just too small.

Mar. 04 2013 08:23 PM
AJ Stein from Brooklyn

Just heard this broadcast. Incredible sensitivity, technique, dynamicism. I am amazed. No wonder he conquered the musical world. What a loss.

Mar. 03 2013 09:13 PM
PATRICIA REEVES

I am very distressed to read Mr. Bournoutiana's comments (New Jersey) about Mr. Cliburn. Indeed he was pushed to handling far too many concerts. He did eventually take a long break and then return to do concerts in smaller music festivals. I heard him play in Saratoga eight years ago. He was wonderful, absolutely wonderful and achieved much for this country. He is more appreciated in Russia but then its people are better informed musically!

Mar. 03 2013 02:43 PM

Yes, Mr. B. from NJ. There is much truth to what you say, but let's face it, he was probably the ONLY good thing that ever came out of the Lone Star state.

Mar. 03 2013 02:14 PM
George Bournoutian from NJ

Let's be honest. Cliburn played an excellent rendition of the Tchaikovsky's piano concerto and deserved to win the Moscow competition. After that he was used by Hurok and RCA as a performing monkey. His playing suffered greatly, he did not practice and his concerts were, to say the least, uneven and at times terrible. He became a celebrity, a household name. The competition named after him has had mediocre results compared to the Queen Elizabeth, the Chopin,and other European competitions. Only one of the winners, Radu Lupu, has developed into a master pianist.
I wish Mr. Dubal would stop with the old cliches.
Cliburn should be remembered as a short-lived phenomenon, whose great talent was destroyed by greedy managers and an adoring public that was not really familiar with classical music. Many could not even pronounce Tchaikovsky.

Mar. 03 2013 12:52 PM
Anna Catherine from Hackettstown, NJ

I was twenty years old when Van Cliburn shook the world with his historical win in Russia. We knew he was a world class musician but who knew he was a young statesman? Seeing him and Kruschev 'chatting' together stunned everyone.

We've lost a great musician, but like the rest, he will live on. It amazes me that over time the great talents we lose stay with us. In addition we are blessed with brighht new musicians. It's a magical continuum.

Mar. 02 2013 03:14 PM
susan smith from Livingston, NJ

Thank you WQXR! I so enjoyed listening to Van Cliburn's 1958 Carnegie Hall Concert!

Feb. 28 2013 09:43 PM
Ruth Rothbart-Mayer

Yesterday I was well into a 2 1/2 hour traffic jam going to New York, trying to remain calm and focused on making it to the dentist's chair without incident. News was anything but calming so I fished out a CD - Van Cliburn's Goldberg Variations. The first CD was a conversation with Time Paige and him bantering about interviews - both meaningful and not. I had never heard Mr. Cliburn's voice so it was interesting to hear it and his very funny riff on not-so-interesting interviews. Then listened to two more DVD's of the Goldberg Variations (yes, traffic was that bad).

I got to NY relaxed and filled with the wonderful sounds of his crisp beautiful playing.

Today's news informed me that he died that day. How do you match that for serendipity?

Feb. 28 2013 12:20 PM
Ava Beamon from Kapolei,HI

It was a hot summer evening along Chicago's lakefront. My mother, sister and I sat on a blanket in Grant Park listening and watching Van Cliburn play the most beautiful music from a piano that I had ever heard! He played under the Patrillo Band Schell (which is no longer there). The world will miss his extraordinary talent. Van Cliburn Aloha

Feb. 28 2013 11:50 AM
Kenneth from Brooklyn

Well, this is lovely having the audio of the concert, but WKCR has changed their programming for the entire day just for Van Cliburn recordings. Sad QXR won't do the same.

Feb. 28 2013 11:12 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, B

ALL THE WORLD ADMIRED VAN CLIBURN FOR HIS GREAT TALENT AND HIS WARM OUTGOING PERSONA. A JUILLIARD ALUM MYSELF BEFORE HIS LANDMARK TSCHAIKOWSKY TRIUMPH, I, WITH HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS, WATCHED HIS TICKER TAPE PARADE AND MY MOM , BROTHER AND I ATTENDED HIS CARNEGIE HALL CONCERT AND SPOKE WITH HIM AFTERWARD BACKSTAGE. THAT TALL , LANKY HANDSOME TEXAN DID MORE FOR A FRIENDLIER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE RUSSIANS THAN ANY POLITICIAN. THE COLD WAR THREATENING PEACE WAS MADE LESS MENACING. R.I.P. VAN CLIBURN. THE WORLD MOURNS YOUR PASSING.

Feb. 27 2013 08:31 PM
jimmie schleh from los angeles

Van Cliburn died this morning Feb 27, 2013 at the age for 78. It feels like a personal loss to me - a deep personal loss, the end of an era - Yet more. I saw Van Cliburn perform in Seattle when I was. I sat in the middle of the second row - aisle seat. It was a late purchase and the ticket person apologetically offered it to me. It was wonderful to me- My first concert and I was right up front and center. My first live performance of any kind, and of someone so great! I was so excited! I remember him walking on stage- so young, and handsome. Oh, to be so close to see and hear his every move- and to hear the crisp brilliant style while watching is fingers and body. It was wonderful!
Van Cliburn “I do not have fingers. I have 10 voices and they must all sing.” And they did; brilliant intimate crisp singing style.
He played 3 anchors- all Chopin, all my favorites’- one being Revolutionary Etude. It was wonderful; so exciting, so surreal. We the audience, were one with him in a magical way. It was warm and intimate.
I was one of the last to leave. It was exhilarating -we all felt it. He had such a way to pull the audience in and make each of us like me feel like he was playing just to me. He was friend, companion, and brother in the arts. He bonded us all together in the same love of music. We knew each other, and we knew him in a deep personal way. I finally belonged. We were one with each other and with him. It was a magical time – warm, intimate and magical. After the applause died for the final time, I just sat there. I turned to look at the house - people were talking to each other like old friends, though they didn’t know each other, commenting on the anchors and his warmth to us like Van Cliburn was an old friend. And commenting on the gift our brother in music gave us that day. It was so wonderful; I didn’t want to leave.
When I did leave with concert hall, I stepped out into a light gentle rain, still under the spell of that magical performance. I walked around the building and there was a Van Cliburn under an umbrella held by a young man in a tux, being helped into a black limousine! I couldn’t breathe. I watched my hero ride off into the gentle rain. It was the most wonderful feeling, the most wonderful moment of my young life. It is a special memory – a moment near my idol, all alone, just for me. He was gracious, and kind to at attendant helping him. It was like he was all those things just for me. He was the same in private as he was on the stage –a kind, handsome, gracious gentleman.
I will always hold that memory in a special place in my heart along with the man who gave it. I will miss him though I never had any other contact with him. Van Cliburn was one of a kind –Genius, Master of the piano, a kind human being. I will miss him.
Van Cliburn, “I do not have fingers. I have 10 voices and they must all sing.”

Feb. 27 2013 06:14 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Follow WQXR 

Sponsored

About WQXR Blog

Engage and interact with the WQXR hosts online.

Feeds