The American pianist Van Cliburn has died, age 78, of bone cancer.
Anthony Tommasini has a long and informative obit on the front page (just now, anyway) of the Times. It's quite clear that Cliburn's importance was more cultural - an American won the Tchaikowsky Competition! - than pianistic. He seems to have been terrific in a small repertory, but didn't grow much as a musician or fulfill the early promise.
Cliburn was trained first by his mother, who'd studied with a Liszt pupil and been thwarted in her desire for a music career, then by the great pedagogue and pianist Rosinna Lhevine, at Juilliard. He did well for himself in his career, making money and investing it well enough to become wealthy.
Update: Matthew Guerrieri and Mr. CKDH on Cliburn. Matthew's posting might be summarized as "Cliburn was Liberace in disguise." Okay, I exaggerate, but not by all that much.