I’ve introduced myself to many celebrated musicians. Van was the first such person to step over and introduce himself to me — while I was taking a brief break in the coffee nook at BMG Classics. We chewed the fat for a few minutes, particularly about the greatly underrated piano music of Szymanowski. The media may have presented an image of Cliburn as shy, but I can vouch for that fact that he was gregarious company whose passion for music as both a player and listener was clear with every word.
I have a lot of fun and funny memories of interacting with musicians, but meeting Cliburn remains the most vivid more than two decades later.