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Russian President Vladimir Putin has conferred the Order of Friendship on famous American pianist Van Cliburn
Russian President Vladimir Putin has conferred the Order of Friendship on famous American pianist Van Cliburn for the big contribution to the development of Russian-U.S. culture cooperation. Handing the award to the pianist in the Kremlin, the Russian leader said that Moscow remembers his legendary performance at the 1st international Tchaikovsky contest in the Russian capital in 1958, which had brought him fame worldwide. According to Vladimir Putin, this performance was "a vivid symbol of positive changes in relations between the Soviet Union and the U.S." "You remain Russia's true friend and this high award expresses special gratitude for your efforts on the expansion of Russian-U.S. humanitarian contacts," the head of state said. In 1958 I understood that the U.S. prairies and Russian steppes share the common spirit and the bonds of friendship linking me with Russia were not lost but grew stronger during these years, Van Cliburn stressed taking the award. I am a private person and have many friends and I assure that many of them admire you, the pianist told Vladimir Putin. I know, Mr. President, that you will always feel the moral support of the people in these hard times when the burden of responsibility and power lies on you, Van Cliburn continued. You are heading the great country and many people pray for your great success, the musician noted. He recollected his first meeting with Vladimir Putin at the U.S. President's ranch in Texas. I am very grateful to President George Bush and his wife Laura for inviting me to the ranch in Crawford two years ago, the pianist said. The conversation was very interesting and animated, he noted. I was impressed that it was conducted in three languages, English, Spanish and Russian, and all guests were amazed at the four of you [the Russian and U.S. Presidents and their spouses] enjoying the meeting, Van Cliburn went on. On his part, Vladimir Putin said he remembered the meeting in Crawford. "It was a good meeting with no communication barriers," he noted. Van Cliburn thanked the Russian leader for the Order of Friendship. Words fail to convey my gratitude, he said. I am impressed that you have thought about me in the year of my anniversary and made it wonderful, he continued. According to the musician, he has always wanted to feel the energy and culture of people living in this huge and varied country having western and oriental values. I am convinced that due to Russia's remarkable geographic position Russian music, culture and literature are admired and respected all over the world, the pianist noted. In his opinion, Russia and its people have reached the depths of the world order understanding. "I am very grateful to you, I love you and Madam [Lyudmila Putin], I love the Russian language, I love Russia," Van Cliburn said in Russian. "God Bless Russia," he said in conclusion paraphrasing the famous words "God Bless America." The American pianist arrived in Moscow to give two concerts commemorating the victims of terrorism on September 21 and 23. I want my music to support those suffering great spiritual pain and dedicate the concerts to terrorism victims worldwide, Van Cliburn told journalists arriving in Moscow on Friday. Harvey Van Cliburn was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1934. He finished the Julliard music school in New York in 1954. His teacher Rosina Levin was born in Russia. After his victory at the 1st international Tchaikovsky contest the musician was a symbol of successful culture cooperation between the USSR and U.S. for many years. In the 1980s Mr. Van Cliburn almost stopped his concert activity and was involved in charity work. The musician was often invited to the juries of prestigious music contests, in particular, in Moscow, and to major cultural events. Mr. Van Cliburn heads the international piano contest founded in 1962. He also established grants for music students.
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