Legendary pianist Van Cliburn dead at 78

Story highlights

  • Van Cliburn's battle with bone cancer was revealed last August
  • "He died peacefully in his Fort Worth, Texas, home," his publicist says
  • Cliburn is considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century
Van Cliburn, the classical pianist honored by a New York ticker-tape parade for winning a major Moscow competition in 1958, died Wednesday after a battle with bone cancer, his publicist said.
"He died peacefully in his Fort Worth, Texas, home ... surrounded by loved ones," spokeswoman Mary Lou Falcone said.
Cliburn, 78, won the International Tchaikovsky Competition months after the Soviet Union stunned Americans with the successful launch of Sputnik I, the first man-made satellite to orbit the Earth. His victory swelled U.S. pride when it was near a Cold War low.
When his illness was made public last August, Falcone said "His spirits are high."
"Van Cliburn was an international legend for over five decades, a great humanitarian and a brilliant musician whose light will continue to shine through his extraordinary legacy," she said Wednesday. "He will be missed by all who knew and admired him, and by countless people he never met."