One of my earliest, and still very vivid, musical memories was a commercial for set of Van Cliburn cassette tapes. I didn't know I was hearing the opening chords of Tchaikovsky 1 at the time, or who Van Cliburn was, but I was bowled over by the emotion of the music and danced around the house hoping I could hear more.
A few years later I got to hear Van live in person playing this concerto. I was too young to understand that he was past his prime. What I took away was the incredible magnetism and power that saturated the room. For days afterwards I was ecstatic to have been in the presence of a living legend; I'll never forget the feeling.
Van Cliburn was a musical hero and a great man; the kind of person and inspiration the world needs more of. Goodbye Van. You will be missed.