A Piano, a Camcorder and a Competition

May 29, 2008

A New YouTube Contest Brings to Mind
Van Cliburn and the Price of Success

by Terry Teachout

March 15, 2008-¬†Fifty years ago next month, a 23-year-old whiz kid from Texas won the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow, instantaneously becoming America’s best-known classical musician and earning a hatful of money in the process. Van Cliburn, then as now a generous man, thereupon started his own piano competition, hoping to give other gifted young artists the same opportunity that the Tchaikovsky Competition had given him. Mr. Cliburn hasn’t played regularly in public since 1978, but the Van Cliburn Competition is still doing business in Fort Worth, and it’s celebrating the anniversary of his Cold War triumph by launching a new venture that would have been unthinkable in 1958: the Cliburn YouTube Contest, in which amateur pianists over the age of 35 shoot videos of their own playing and upload them to www.youtube.com/vancliburnfoundation, where computer-savvy music lovers will view them and pick a winner. Read the rest of this entry »