When this album came out, Van Cliburn was the “Elvis” of the classical music world. In 1958, at the age of 23 he won the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. He skyrocketed to fame as a Cold War hero and landed a major contract with RCA. The young Texan was the first classical musician to have an album go platinum. He was active in the 1960s and early 1970s, then took a hiatus from playing starting in the late 1970s after his father, and his manager both died. He resumed playing concertslater in life, but at a much reduced schedule. He returned on many occasions to Russia where he was always warmly welcomed. Van Cliburn died in 2013 of bone cancer at the age of 78. While not the greatest pianist of his generation – he was certainly one of the most impactful.
As with most of the Living Presence records of this era, this one is excellently produced. And for the beginning collector there is always a ready supply of Van Cliburn albums at record and second hand stores.
00:00 Side A
20:00 Side B
Album title: Van Cliburn. Frizt Reiner. Beethoven “Emperor Concerto
Released by: RCA Victor (LSC-2562)
Year released: 1961
Pianist: Van Cliburn
Orchestra: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Fritz Reiner