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Download When the World Stopped to Listen: Van Cliburn’s Cold War Triumph and Its Aftermath Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample When the World Stopped to Listen: Van Cliburn’s Cold War Triumph and Its Aftermath Audiobook, by Stuart Isacoff Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Stuart Isacoff Narrator: Stefan Rudnicki Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2017 ISBN: 9781455112685
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April of 1958—the Iron Curtain was at its heaviest, and the outcome of the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition seemed preordained. Nonetheless, as star musicians from across the globe descended on Moscow, an unlikely favorite emerged: Van Cliburn, a polite, lanky Texan whose passionate virtuosity captured the Russian spirit.

This is the story of what unfolded that spring—for Cliburn and the other competitors, jurors, party officials, and citizens of the world who were touched by the outcome. It is a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most remarkable events in musical history, filled with political intrigue and personal struggle as artists strove for self-expression and governments jockeyed for prestige. And, at the core of it all: the value of artistic achievement, the supremacy of the heart, and the transcendent freedom that can be found, through music, even in the darkest moments of human history.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A tightly focused monograph that profits from the fact that its author is himself a pianist…[revealing] why Cliburn played the way he played—and how his distinctive style helped him win.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Analyzes Cliburn’s strengths and weaknesses…[and] the particular velvet touch that produced that inimitable Cliburn tone…Isacoff has also collected those juicy little tidbits that Cliburn fans love to trade.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “Stuart Isacoff is a music scholar, and a superb one…This was a fascinating and important event… A juicy book.”

    National Review

  • “More than a history of this historic competition, Isacoff’s book is a testament to the power music has to transcend differences.”

    Durham Herald-Sun

  • “Isacoff compellingly details the various backstage intrigues.”

    Los Angeles Review of Books

  • “Not only is Isacoff’s prose evocative, he is both a pianist and a historian of the piano. His descriptions are often music lessons in themselves.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “Isacoff pulls aside the curtain on the competition, from the backroom dealings to the (disgusting and dangerous) contents of the drug cocktail that fueled Cliburn to victory. He combines a sharp, unsparing biographical eye with a mastery of the musical and social history of the time.”

    Book Reporter

  • “Isacoff brings both a pianist’s insights and a historian’s rigor to an event that shook the musical world—indeed, the world at large—almost six decades ago.”

    Classical Voice

  • “Well researched…Assures that [Cliburn] won’t be just a footnote in the annals of piano artistry.

    New York Journal of Books

  • “[A] compelling, historically vivid account…a page-turner that resonates long after the final sentence.”

    American Music Teacher

  • “The author’s deftly written narrative places Cliburn both in the world of classical music and the larger Cold War conflict.”

    Library Journal

  • “This well-rounded biography will move readers…Essential reading for music lovers.”


  • “A touching portrait of Cliburn.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “An exciting, thorough, and deeply moving reminder of Van Cliburn’s triumph at the Tchaikovsky Competition.”

    Emanuel Ax, musician

  • “Beautifully written…an insider’s report of the onstage and offstage drama around the 1958 triumph of Van Cliburn and the incredible musical events that led to a Cold War ‘thaw.’”

    André Watts, concert pianist

  • “[This] remarkably candid, sensitive, and level-headed narration of Van Cliburn’s life paints a broad and enlightening picture of the Soviet Union and the United States during Cliburn’s musical ascendency…a heady mix that Stuart Isacoff examines with unusual skill.”

    Garrick Ohlsson, concert pianist

  • “The singular odyssey of the Cold War’s remarkable pianistic icon is recounted in a breathtaking synergy of unprecedented worldwide scholarship, fervent musical insight, and virtuoso storytelling…indispensable.”

    Sara Davis Buechner, pianist

  • “With Van Cliburn’s remarkable victory in the 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition as centerpiece, Stuart Isacoff has given us a sensitive, in-depth portrait of the triumphs and tragedies which plagued Cliburn for the rest of his life.”

    Martin Bookspan, broadcaster

  • “Stuart Isacoff, a stellar researcher, tells a spellbinding, even a startling, adventure story, starring the legendary American pianist: a life of triumph and tragedy.”

    David Dubal, professor, Juilliard School

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About the Author

Stuart Isacoff is a pianist, writer, and the founder of Piano Today magazine, which he edited for nearly three decades. A winner of the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for excellence in writing about music, he is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and many other publications. He is also the author of The Natural History of the Piano and Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization. He lives in Closter, New Jersey.

About the Narrator

Stefan Rudnicki first became involved with audiobooks in 1994. Now a Grammy-winning audiobook producer, he has worked on more than three thousand audiobooks as a narrator, writer, producer, or director. He has narrated more than three hundred audiobooks. A recipient of multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards, he was presented the coveted Audie Award for solo narration in 2005, 2007, and 2014, and was named one of AudioFile’s Golden Voices in 2012.