You can now read 10 articles each month for free on BostonGlobe.com.

The Boston Globe

Music

third ear

When a Texas pianist became ‘the American Sputnik’

Last week, as fans and fellow musicians around the world mourned the death of Van Cliburn, politicians also made their voices heard. At a memorial ceremony, words came from presidents Obama and George W. Bush as well as Russian president Vladimir Putin. In the flurry of press coverage, someone even tracked down Sergei Khrushchev, son of the Soviet premier.

Their presence was a reminder of the combustible mix of politics and culture that, during one heady week in April 1958, ignited Cliburn’s career in the way that no pianist’s career had ever been launched before. Or since.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than $1 a week