« Review: Rep Stage explores early gay rights history in 'The Temperamentals' | Main | Music in the Great Hall opens 39th season with French flourish »

September 10, 2012

Van Cliburn, battling bone cancer, makes surprise appearance onstage

Van Cliburn, who is battling advanced bone cancer, made a surprise appearance the other day at a concert marking the 50th anniversary of the international piano competition that bears his name in Fort Worth.

I've posted video of the event below. It is really something to see.

The 78-year-old Cliburn arrived unexpectedly at the concert hall at 7:29 p.m., a minute before the performance was to have started. According to

a vividly detailed news report, he left his oxygen tank backstage and walked out with the support of Fort Worth Symphony music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya.

(I couldn't help but recall the time in mid-1990s when I was backstage at the San Francisco Symphony's hall watching everyone go slightly crazy, wondering if the famed pianist would show for the season-opening concert. But in he walked from his car, mere seconds to spare, and headed directly onto the stage to play the Tchaikovsky concerto as if he hadn't a care in the world. Talk about a trouper.)

It is heart-warming to see and hear Cliburn at this Fort Worth event, to realize the courage it took for him to be there:


Posted by Tim Smith at 10:47 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
View the Artsmash blog

Baltimore Sun coverage
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop
Famous faces in classical music
Sign up for FREE entertainment alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Most Recent Comments
Stay connected