Van Cliburn — Pianist
An introduction to one of the 20th century's most legendary pianists, with an up-close look at his 1994 summer tour.
Peter Rosen walks in the footsteps of America pianist Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn, who—at the height of the Cold War—took first prize at the inaugural edition of the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958. The 23-year-old came home to a hero's welcome, complete with a ticker-tape parade in New York City, and embarked on an internationally renowned concert and recording career that would span decades.
The film is an archival treasure trove, including personal material provided by the Cliburn family and rarely seen performance footage. Documentarian Peter Rosen met with family and associates of the pianist, including Cliburn's mother Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn, actress Arlene Dahl, pianist Gary Graffman—a fellow first-prize winner of the prestigious, now-defunct Leventritt Competition—and announcer Martin Bookspan, who speaks about Cliburn's stratospheric popularity in the U.S. after his victory in Moscow.