Cliburn inspired generations of younger musicians

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by TODD UNGER

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WFAA

Posted on February 27, 2013 at 11:18 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 28 at 10:07 AM

FORT WORTH — The passing of legendary pianist Van Cliburn is being felt by every corner of the music industry.

But a younger generation of musicians who say Cliburn inspired them to pursue their true passion is especially devastated.

Anna Bulkina is one of four TCU students who auditioned in this year's Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

The 26-year-old said without learning and studying Cliburn — who is still a huge draw in her native Russia — she wouldn't be where she is today.

"What I really admire is that he was first and foremost — a musician, an artist," she said.

In 1958, Cliburn stormed the world musical stage by winning the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.

He went on to become a renowned pianist, but his friends and fellow performers say perhaps his most enduring legacy will be the inspiration he provided for so many young musicians.

"With YouTube and everything, certainly I tell my students to listen to him. He is like a magnet that brings you into his world," said Tomas Ungar, a well-known pianist who knew Cliburn.

Cliburn performed for every U.S. president since Harry Truman, but Ungar described a humble man who didn't seek out the attention or fame.

Cliburn is survived by his longtime friend Thomas Smith. Funeral services are set for Sunday at 3 p.m. at Broadway Baptist in Fort Worth.

E-mail tunger@wfaa.com

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