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concert Van Cliburn performs Chopin – Claudio Arrau performs Beethoven BBC Television Studios, 1959-1960

BBC Television Studios, 1959-1960

Van Cliburn performs Chopin – Claudio Arrau performs Beethoven BBC Television Studios, 1959-1960


Cliburn in Chopin and Arrau in Beethoven: illuminating contrasts in both creator and re-creator, in composer and performer.

Cliburn was recorded by the BBC one year after his tumultuous triumph in the 1958 inaugural Tchaikovsky Competition, where his playing captivated a jury that included such luminaries as Shostakovich, Kabalevsky, Richter and Gilels. For Richter, Cliburn was the genuine article ("he is a pianist, the others are not"), and oblivious to competition etiquette, he awarded Cliburn one hundred marks, the others zero. The Tchaikovsky Competition had been created as a showcase for Russian talent and so Cliburn's hold on both his jury and audience came as a shock. Here, after all, was an American pianist who made his admirers forget the current cold was and who defied cynical expectations of a crew-cut school of playing expressed in un-lyrical, cut-glass sound. Later in London, Cliburn would attract a capacity audience (including several Hollywood stars) to the Royal Festival Hall and launched an international career that quickly took its toll.

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  • Frederic Chopin, Ballade No. 3 in A flat Major, Op. 47
  • Frederic Chopin, Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 39
  • Frederic Chopin, Fantasy in F Minor, Op. 49
  • Ludwig van Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57, "Appassionata"


  • Directed by:
    • Patricia Foy
    • Walter Todds
    • Arthur Langford
  • Venue: BBC Television Studios (London)
  • Production date: 2012
  • Recording date: 1959-1960
  • Duration: 55 min
  • Production: © BBC, under licence to International Classical Artists Ltd
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