Death of Van Cliburn’s rocket launcher

Death of Van Cliburn’s rocket launcher


norman lebrecht

August 22, 2017

Martha Rowan Hyder, who has died at 89, did more than anyone to make Van Cliburn Piano Competition international.

A member of the competition’s executive committee of the competition from 1962 to 1993, she toured the world forging relationships with performing and academic institutions to ensure that Fort Worth got a good flow of talent.

She sat on the boards of the National Symphony in Washington, New York City Ballet and the Friends of Carnegie Hall.


  • esfir ross says:


  • Slight Supremacist says:

    Indeed, Martha Hyder was generous to a fault, and she came to the aid of many needy pianists. However, as the old saying goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions — and thus her efforts grew the Cliburn
    Competition into a monstrous steam-roller that crushed many young, fragile talents before they had a chance to mature and refine their skills. As with most of the Cliburn’s wealthy donors, they don’t understand that “bigger” doesn’t mean “better”.

  • Alaric Balth says:

    Also regrettably, the “international piano comeptition” as a genre has been devalued by massive proliferation, primarily for the financial benefit of juries and organizers and to the detriment of young pianists.
    The Alink-Argerich website database shows about 150 piano competitions having taken place from Jan-Aug 2017. Italy clearly takes the lead with 30 dime-a-dozen competitions, followed by USA and Germany with 18 each, France with 13, Spain with 12, and Poland with 7. The remaning 33 countries contributed between 1 and 3 competitions.
    I shudder to think how many performances of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in B flat minor took place to produce these statistics.
    Assuming each competition produces at least 4 prizewinners (there are double or triple winners of some prizes), we are looking at over 600 aspiring laureates with more than a third of the year still to go. Good luck to them all in getting high-profile concert engagements.