Van Cliburn was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1934. After beginning studies with his mother, Cliburn became a pupil of Rosina Lhevinne at Juilliard. He graduated in 1954. In 1958, at the height of the Cold War, Cliburn was the first American to win the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. This triumph made his a star in the U.S. and pushed his concert and recording career far ahead. After about 1980, Cliburn drastically curtailed his career, making only sporadic appearances in a limited repertoire. He has devoted much time and energy to the Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, TX, held every four years. Cliburn was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors in 2001.