2022 Posthumous Inductee
Born in Shreveport in 1934, Van Cliburn began studying the piano when he was just 3 years old – under the tutelage of his pianist mother. He made his orchestral debut at age 12 and, two years later, he appeared at Carnegie Hall. In 1951, he enrolled in the Juilliard School. It was there that his teacher encouraged him to enter the first-ever Tchaikovsky International Competition in 1958, at the height of the Cold War, and he emerged victorious. Returning to the United States, he was honored with a ticker-tape parade in New York City. It was the only time that honor has ever been bestowed on a musician.
Van Cliburn’s career spanned more than five decades. During that time, he played for every U.S. President from Harry Truman to Barack Obama and received countless accolades. He received the first Grammy for classical music, had the first classical album to go triple-platinum, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Arts, and Russia’s Order of Friendship.
In 1962, a group of volunteers organized the first Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth. It is now recognized as one of the most prestigious piano competitions in the world.
Van Cliburn passed away in 2013 at the age of 78.