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Melody

RIP Van Cliburn

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I had coincidentally driven past his house today, not knowing that he had passed there earlier in the day.

I never actually met Van Cliburn, though I'd seen him from a distance a number of times in various places. I'd even been inside his house for a charity event, but it was hosted by his mother and he wasn't in town. But my daughter was blessed to have recent interactions with him, mostly when she was working as a hostess at a restaurant he favored. The main word she always used to describe him was, "kind."

As I read through his online guestbook, I remembered her description and was struck by the fact that people in all walks of life who had encountered him in person used that same word to describe him, "kind."

Made me wonder what word people might use of me.

Anyway, a remarkable talent, a generous spirit, the personification of "class," and a very kind man is gone from our community. He will be missed.

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A great loss and Melody, quite the question to pose for us to ponder. Thank you for the posting and your reaction.

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A sad reminder of a bygone era when icons of like Cliburn and Haifetz were also quite popular and made a great living on their talents.

I hope one day fine culture can stand on it's own again without giant underwriting and/or "The Music of Star Wars" to prop it up financially.

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Well, I don't know anything about his personal business. But I can say that he didn't scrabble up from poverty. As I understand it, his parents were fairly affluent. He certainly had their patronage and, no doubt, financial support from others.

I don't intend this as a criticism of him at all. He was a fabulous talent and very worthy. I'm just saying that the arts have always in history been underwritten by wealthy patrons.

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Well, I don't know anything about his personal business. But I can say that he didn't scrabble up from poverty. As I understand it, his parents were fairly affluent. He certainly had their patronage and, no doubt, financial support from others.

I don't intend this as a criticism of him at all. He was a fabulous talent and very worthy. I'm just saying that the arts have always in history been underwritten by wealthy patrons.

I think its actually kinda of counter intuitive that in an era when income disparity is growing and there are unprecedented numbers of people with the means, and whose cohorts would have spent on it in the past, fine arts partronage - at least in music - does not seem to be doing well at all. I guess this is the first generation of rich and noveau riche who were never taught classical music appreciation anywhere along the way. Or at least don't aspire to the old style markers of high society.

Edited by Gehringer_2

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I've heard he was a bit of a recluse the past several years, attending only his own piano competition. Although he was a judge at the Tchaikovsky competition a couple of years ago.

Great artist, I do remember a story from the early 70s when he was on tour in Roanoke, Va. He left the water running in his tub and flooded his flor at the famed Hotel Roanoke. It caused a bit of a stir, but nothing like the rock stars of the 70s and 80s.

Melody, ask your daughter if she has ever encountered a pianist named Barry Douglas who occasionally plays with the DSO.

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I couldn't say whether he was uncharacteristically reclusive or not in recent years. He seems to have been a pretty private person. Still out in public here, dining with friends and such. Recognizable, but not doing anything that would draw attention to himself. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that he'd slowed down his public appearances, though; he was in his upper seventies.

Daughter says she's not familiar with Barry Douglas. I can't say if she's even ever seen the DSO. I never was much to drive to Dallas, esp. when we have plenty of cultural opportunities on the Tarrant side of the county line. And she doesn't think he's done a recital or guest lecture at her school since she's been there.

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Daughter says she's not familiar with Barry Douglas. I can't say if she's even ever seen the DSO. I never was much to drive to Dallas, esp. when we have plenty of cultural opportunities on the Tarrant side of the county line. And she doesn't think he's done a recital or guest lecture at her school since she's been there.

I suspect he was referring to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra rather than Dallas.

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I suspect he was referring to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra rather than Dallas.

Well, then. I can state affirmatively that she's never seen the Detroit Symphony unless they performed somewhere in Tarrant County in recent years. LOL

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I couldn't say whether he was uncharacteristically reclusive or not in recent years. He seems to have been a pretty private person. Still out in public here, dining with friends and such. Recognizable, but not doing anything that would draw attention to himself. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that he'd slowed down his public appearances, though; he was in his upper seventies.

Daughter says she's not familiar with Barry Douglas. I can't say if she's even ever seen the DSO. I never was much to drive to Dallas, esp. when we have plenty of cultural opportunities on the Tarrant side of the county line. And she doesn't think he's done a recital or guest lecture at her school since she's been there.

After his father died, he took up residence semi-openly with a partner, the timing seems to line-up with his initial withdrawal from heavy touring. One inference would be he didn't want to deal with whatever controversy he would have faced in the early 80's.

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I remember when the guy sued him, but only vaguely. His mother was living with him (them?) the whole time, and he was sure taking her to church on Sundays. I always figured she was the main reason he quit touring and settled in a home here.

He was sure devoted to his mother. When she died, he moved her bed to the funeral home and had her laid out in a pink nightgown as though she was sleeping. Now THAT was the talk of the town. His relationship with his companion, not so much. Folks "knew" but he wasn't public about it so they generally ignored it.

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I suspect he was referring to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra rather than Dallas.

I was referring to the Dallas Symphony. I know he has done a couple of concerts there in the last few years. Barry was the first (and I think only) westerner to win the Tchaikovsky competition since Van Cliburn (1986) and was a bronze award winner of the Van Cliburn competition in 1985. He is from Belfast.

I accuse my wife of being a bit of a groupie....we saw him in Dublin 5 years ago and several times when he has played close to Detroit. She complained last week that our weekend trip to Dallas was two days too late. Barry was in Wichita Falls Thursday night. And yes she would have driven from Frisco to see him if we were there.

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I remember when the guy sued him, but only vaguely. His mother was living with him (them?) the whole time, and he was sure taking her to church on Sundays. I always figured she was the main reason he quit touring and settled in a home here.

He was sure devoted to his mother. When she died, he moved her bed to the funeral home and had her laid out in a pink nightgown as though she was sleeping. Now THAT was the talk of the town. His relationship with his companion, not so much. Folks "knew" but he wasn't public about it so they generally ignored it.

Didn't know the funeral story. That's fantastic. :silly:

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