The International Search For The Next ‘Van Cliburn’ Pianist Lands In Moscow

Cliburn himself won his big competition in Moscow 59 years ago and Russians remember.

By Bill ZeebleFebruary 8, 2017 9:30 am| , , ,

From KERA News

Every four years in late spring, young pianists from the around the world land in Fort Worth, nervous yet eager to change their lives. Some are still students; others teach and give the occasional concert. All are accomplished musicians.

At 28, Russian native Nikita Abrosimov is close to the Cliburn competition’s cut-off age of 30. He says the competition’s big prize isn’t really the $50,000 gold medal money.

“We try to get to the concert career. That’s why we enter competitions,” Abrosimov says.

Top Cliburn finishers win three years of professional management, international or U.S. bookings and publicity. Abrosimov has been to Fort Worth before. He was in the last competition. This January, he was in a little performance hall in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory. He played his 40-minute audition for a handful of people in the audience and five Cliburn judges.

He says Cliburn’s 1958 win at the first Tchaikovsky competition here still resonates.

“It was so powerful,” Abrosimov says, “that still after so many years it has a huge impression on both professionals and music lovers. The name of  Van Cliburn means a lot to the Russian people, and Van Cliburn loved Russian culture, Russian music, and the Russian audience also loved Van Cliburn.”

Across the world, 146 pianists are auditioning for 30 spots. Ten played here in Moscow. They pick their program to show off their strengths.

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