Martha Rowan Hyder, a force behind the Cliburn competition, dies at 89

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - Martha Rowan Hyder, a tireless advocate for the arts and a force in making the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition truly global, died Friday in her home. She was 89.

Mrs. Hyder served on the executive committee of the competition from 1962 through 1993 and helped establish the Cliburn Council, which holds lectures, concerts and benefits in the competition’s off years. In those capacities, she became a citizen of the world while serving Fort Worth’s interests abroad.

“She wanted to decorate the world,” said Joe Minton, an interior designer, who lived across the street from Mrs. Hyder and her late husband, Elton M. Hyder Jr., in the Rivercrest neighborhood, from 1966-1986. “She really wanted to make the world more beautiful.”

To that end, she devoted much of her life to the arts, and in particular to the Cliburn competition. When the competition was in its infancy during the 1960s, she traveled the world, persuading dignitaries and the heads of other major piano competitions that the one she represented in her hometown of Fort Worth was equal to any of them.

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