When the World Stopped to Listen: Van Cliburn’s Cold War Triumph and Its Aftermath

By Stuart Isacoff
Directed by Claire Bloom
Read by Stefan Rudnicki

04/18/2017 unabridged
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April of 1958—the Iron Curtain was at its heaviest, and the outcome of the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition seemed preordained. Nonetheless, as star musicians from across the globe descended on Moscow, an unlikely favorite emerged: Van Cliburn, a polite, lanky Texan whose passionate virtuosity captured the Russian spirit. This is the story of what unfolded that spring—for Cliburn and the other competitors, jurors, party officials, and citizens of the world who were touched by the outcome. It is a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most remarkable events in musical history, filled with political intrigue and personal struggle as artists strove for self-expression and governments jockeyed for prestige. And, at the core of it all: the value of artistic achievement, the supremacy of the heart, and the transcendent freedom that can be found, through music, even in the darkest moments of human history.

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Summary

Summary

April of 1958—the Iron Curtain was at its heaviest, and the outcome of the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition seemed preordained. Nonetheless, as star musicians from across the globe descended on Moscow, an unlikely favorite emerged: Van Cliburn, a polite, lanky Texan whose passionate virtuosity captured the Russian spirit.

This is the story of what unfolded that spring—for Cliburn and the other competitors, jurors, party officials, and citizens of the world who were touched by the outcome. It is a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most remarkable events in musical history, filled with political intrigue and personal struggle as artists strove for self-expression and governments jockeyed for prestige. And, at the core of it all: the value of artistic achievement, the supremacy of the heart, and the transcendent freedom that can be found, through music, even in the darkest moments of human history.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“The singular odyssey of the Cold War’s remarkable pianistic icon is recounted in a breathtaking synergy of unprecedented worldwide scholarship, fervent musical insight, and virtuoso storytelling…indispensable.” Sara Davis Buechner, pianist
“With Van Cliburn’s remarkable victory in the 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition as centerpiece, Stuart Isacoff has given us a sensitive, in-depth portrait of the triumphs and tragedies which plagued Cliburn for the rest of his life.” Martin Bookspan, broadcaster
“Stuart Isacoff, a stellar researcher, tells a spellbinding, even a startling, adventure story, starring the legendary American pianist: a life of triumph and tragedy.” David Dubal, professor, Juilliard School
“The author’s deftly written narrative places Cliburn both in the world of classical music and the larger Cold War conflict.” Library Journal
“An exciting, thorough, and deeply moving reminder of Van Cliburn’s triumph at the Tchaikovsky Competition.” Emanuel Ax. musician
“Beautifully written…an insider’s report of the onstage and offstage drama around the 1958 triumph of Van Cliburn and the incredible musical events that led to a Cold War ‘thaw.’” André Watts, concert pianist
“A touching portrait of Cliburn.” Kirkus Reviews
“Illuminating…This well-rounded biography will move readers…Essential reading for music lovers.” Booklist
When the World Stopped to Listen, a remarkably candid, sensitive, and level-headed narration of Van Cliburn’s life, paints a broad and enlightening picture of the Soviet Union and the United States during Cliburn’s musical ascendency…a heady mix that Stuart Isacoff examines with unusual skill.” Garrick Ohlsson, concert pianist
“Well-researched…Assures that [Cliburn] won’t be just a footnote in the annals of piano artistry.” New York Journal of Books
“A polished, chatty retelling of the most consequential competition in the political history of classical music. Isacoff pulls aside the curtain on the competition, from the backroom dealings to the (disgusting and dangerous) contents of the drug cocktail that fueled Cliburn to victory. He combines a sharp, unsparing biographical eye with a mastery of the musical and social history of the time.” Book Reporter

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Author

Author Bio: Stuart Isacoff

Stuart Isacoff is a pianist, writer, and the founder of Piano Today magazine, which he edited for nearly three decades. A winner of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for excellence in writing about music, he is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and many other publications. He is also the author of The Natural History of the Piano and Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization. He lives in Closter, New Jersey.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography
Audience: Adult
Edition: English