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GRAMMY-winning pianist and Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Van Cliburn died Feb. 27 at his home in Fort Worth, Texas, following a battle with bone cancer. He was 78. Cliburn, who entered the Juilliard School of Music at age 17, was named "The Texan Who Conquered Russia" by Time magazine after he won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958. Cliburn earned 10 total GRAMMY nominations throughout his career, winning two, including Best Classical Performance — Instrumentalist (With Concerto Scale Accompaniment) for Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 In B Flat Minor, Op. 23 at the inaugural GRAMMY Awards in 1958. In 1962 he founded the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth. Cliburn was celebrated for his professional achievements and role as an ambassador for the arts at The Recording Academy's GRAMMY Salute To Classical Music event in 2002, and was honored with a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. "[Van Cliburn] spent his illustrious career touring with every major orchestra and playing renowned concert halls around the world — transcending cultural barriers and politics through the power of his music," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow.
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