I had a piece chosen already, but yesterday’s passing of pianist Van Cliburn gave me cause to push that one back a week. This particular work is so associated with Cliburn that it’s almost cliche to use it, but there’s a reason cliches become so in the first place.
Back when I was in school and taking piano lessons, my teacher — a wonderful lady named Margaret Hooker — used to rave about Van Cliburn. She thought the world of him, and I never think of him without thinking of her almost at the same time. I was never that good at the piano, choosing instead to focus my energies on my beloved trumpet, which I imagine had to frustrate Mrs. Hooker somewhat, as I could have done better had I worked harder at it. I’d say ‘Story of my life’, but then, that’s the story of everyone‘s life, isn’t it?
Anyway, I hope that Mrs. Hooker is finally getting to meet Mr. Cliburn in whatever musical realm they now inhabit. There’s no question in my mind that if there is such a realm, she’s already tracked him down.
Here’s Van Cliburn playing the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1.