The Russians, he added, “reminded me of Texans.”
“When I won the Tchaikovsky I was only 23, and everyone talked about that,” Mr. Cliburn said in 2008. “But I felt like I had been at this thing for 20 years already. It was thrilling to be wanted. But it was pressure, too.”
His subsequent explorations of wider repertory grew increasingly insecure. During the 1960s he played less and less. By 1978 he had retired from the stage; he returned in 1989, but performed rarely. Ultimately, his promise and potential were never fulfilled, but his great talent was apparent early on.