Van Cliburn's Support Remembered


Scholarship Support

Carl Friedberg teaches a master class in piano repertoire at the Juilliard Summer School, 1951. Van Cliburn is in the 4th row of students, center, along with his mother, Rildia Bee Cliburn, who is sitting to his left, and Lonny Epstein (5th row, 2nd).

 (Photo by Alton Taube, Juilliard Archives)

Nearly 90 percent of Juilliard students qualify for scholarship support. 

Van Cliburn with Robert Taub

Van Cliburn with Robert Taub (Pre-College '73, MM '78, DMA '81, piano), at Juilliard's 1978 commencement.

(Photo by Whitestone Photo, courtesy of the Juilliard Archives)


Fifty-nine years ago this month, Van Cliburn (Diploma '54, piano; honorary degree '98) made headlines around the world when he won the gold medal at the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. Cliburn was always a generous supporter of Juilliard. In 1963, he gave a Juilliard benefit concert at Carnegie Hall for the AlumniAssociation Scholarship Fund. He later led the Alumni Fund. In 1978, Cliburn gave the commencement address and awarded the first Van Cliburn Scholarship and Prize, a full-tuition scholarship plus living expenses, to Sara Davis Buechner (BM '80, MM '81, piano), then a second-year student of Beveridge Webster (faculty 1946–90). He established the scholarship in honor of his mother, Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn, his only piano teacher from age 3 until he came to Juilliard at age 17; he and his mother took classes together in the Juilliard Summer School for several years. A year before he died, in 2013, Cliburn auctioned off his piano, with the stipulation that the proceeds were divided between the Moscow Conservatory and Juilliard; our portion endowed the Van Cliburn Scholarship in the Pre-College Division.

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