FORT WORTH - The man who Time magazine once dubbed "The Texan who conquered Russia" has died. Legendary concert pianist Van Cliburn succombed to bone cancer at his Westover Hills mansion Wednesday morning. He was 78.
His publicist and longtime friend Mary Lou Falcone announced in late August that Cliburn had been diagnosed with advanced cancer and was being cared for at his home.
Cliburn's triumphant win at the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow in 1958 helped thaw the Cold War and launched him into a spectacular career. He was just 23 when he took the coveted prize. Upon his return, a historic ticker tape parade was held in his honor in lower Manhattan.
He's traveled the globe performing, winning awards and even playing for Royalty and heads of state. He's performed for every president since Harry Truman.
In 1962, the first Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was held. The quadrennial competition will be held in May this year. The 30 competitors will be announced on Tuesday.
Cliburn's funeral service will be held on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth.
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