Van Cliburn, a Louisiana native raised in Texas, won the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow during the height of the Cold War. In 1962, four years after his incredible feat, the first-ever Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was organized as a way to recognize the world’s best young pianists. The quadrennial contest, which is broadcast over the Internet, has been held every four years since then and showers its winner with cash prizes, concert dates, and more.
Although the competition is what the Van Cliburn Foundation is known for, it is by no means the foundation’s only focus. The annual Cliburn Concert Series brings some of the most renowned and respected classical pianists to Bass Performance Hall and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs is a separate contest for pianists over 35 who derive their income for sources other than music. Student outreach programs at the Van Cliburn Foundation take the form of piano lessons and performances at public schools.