Van Cliburn diagnosed with bone cancer

The triple-platinum selling American pianist is resting at home following the announcement from his publicist on Monday.

Van Cliburn pianist with Obama

Van Cliburn, the first American classical pianist to sell 1million copies of an album, announced he had bone cancer in a statement from his publicist on Monday.

Publicist Mary Lou Falcone said: “He is under excellent care and resting comfortably at home. His spirits are high. We ask that his privacy be respected.”

Educated at Julliard, Harvey Lavan ‘Van’ Cliburn won the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow in 1958, aged 23. At the height of the Cold War, it was unusual for an American pianist to be recognised in such a public way.

He performed Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. His later recording of the Tchaikovsky was the first classical recording to sell 1million copies, and eventually went triple-platinum.

Cliburn has performed for every American president since Harry Truman, despite retiring from performance in 1978. He won a Grammy Lifetime Achivement Award for his services to classical music in 2004.

Van Cliburn plays Tchaikovsky in 1962

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