Music: The Return of Van Cliburn

He still plays wonderfully, but it's still Tchaikovsky

"I never abandoned the stage, I never left the stage, I only took time," said Van Cliburn, who had not appeared in a public concert or made a recording in nearly eleven years. It was 2:30 a.m., Cliburn's favored hour for interviews, since he usually sleeps from 5 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon. As he talked about his return to the stage that he had never left, he grew increasingly adamant. "I never retired, and I don't think that classical musicians do. It's unthinkable."

The legendary pianist, who became a cold war hero by his spectacular victory at...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!