Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn, Jr., was an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958 at the age of 23, when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow at the height of the Cold War.
His mother, an accomplished pianist who had studied under a student of Franz Liszt, discovered him playing at age three and mimicking one of her students. She began his own lessons. He developed a rich, round tone and a singing voice-like phrasing, having been taught from the start to sing each piece.
Van Cliburn toured domestically and overseas. He played for royalty, heads of state, and every U.S. president from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama.