|AP photo, Sergey Ponomorev. We willl always have his music..|
I was a senior at
Nikita Khrushchev was president of the Soviet Union and it was the height of the “Cold War.” Khrushchev was yet to give his speech to the Communist Party congress in 1960 that denounced the legacy of Stalin, and set off an explosive whirlwind of change. Tom Smith wrote about the horrendous consequences of that speech in his book “The Secret Speech,” a powerful story about betrayal and transformation that resonates to this day.
I remember that our house was always filled with the sounds of classical music, including my mom practicing arias from the Opera repertoire. I called her "My Madama Butterfly." .We had many of Van Cliburn’s recordings. Van Cliburn playing the Rachmaninoff 3rd Piano Concerto, incredibly complex and beautiful. Van Cliburn playing Grieg, Prokofiev, Schumann and Beethovan. All my favorites.
Yes, and it made our lives richer, deeper, and I think more open to universal understanding. It wasn't politics that mattered; it wasn't war that brought peace. It was art and the humanities. The universal language of culture. Van Cliburn was among those who taught us that. . .