Did Margaret Thatcher change the world for the better?
Yes, but socialism won in the end.
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From the Annals of Objectively Superior Music—Van Cliburn (reprised to mark Cliburn's death today)
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Sun, 2008-04-13 04:21
TV channel-surfing the other night, I came across some mellifluous old fart on Jim Lehrer's Newshour mellifluating about real music. "Who is that mellifluous old fart?" I asked myself. Delectably camp, he seemed like classical music's answer to Liberace. I quickly realised from the still-handsome features and the intact, distinctive shock of hair that it was none other than Van Cliburn, the prodigy who had caused a sensation by winning the first-ever international Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow in 1958. It wasn't just that he played the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1 so brilliantly that caused such a stir—it was the fact that he was an American, and there was a Cold War going on. Officials had to ask Premier Khruschev permission to award Cliburn the prize. Khruschev, memorably described by Nathaniel Branden as a "blustering anthropoid," is reported to have said, in what must have been a singularly non-anthropoidal moment: "Is he the best? Then give him the prize!" Cliburn then returned to a New York ticker tape parade, the first ever for a classical musician. His subsequent recording of the concerto was the best-selling classical album in the world for more than a decade.
The reason for his being on television the other night was to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Moscow competition. The following is the third movement from the great work as performed by Van four years later in Moscow with Khruschev in attendance (he's the bald old fart one sees applauding at the end). This is as good as it gets, folks. Or should I say, as glorious as it has yet gotten.
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