Van Cliburn, who rode the wings of early television to become the first classical musician to achieve international superstar status following his triumph at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958, died Wednesday of bone cancer at age 78. He has performed only sporadically since 1978, telling the New York Times in 2008 that by spending so many of his early years touring and appearing on TV he was missing so much. He added that it was thrilling to be wanted. But it was pressure, too. He did not make another public appearance until 1987 when he performed at the White House during a state dinner for Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. In a statement on Wednesday, former First Lady Nancy Reagan recalled that his beautiful music brought the whole room to tears. ... The world has lost a true treasure.
Last week the actor performed at an Anti Inaugural Ball hosted by Prophets of Rage.