The Van Cliburn Piano Competition goes on in his name.
The Van Cliburn Piano Competition goes on in his name.

Thirty young pianists from 14 countries will converge on Bass Performance Hall on Friday to begin the 14th Quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the first to be held since the death of the pianist who gave his name to the event. As detailed in our pages (“Musical Transition,” Sept 21, 2011; “From Montreal with Charm,” Jan 9, 2013), the foundation’s management team also has experienced large amounts of turnover since the last competition, in 2009. We’ll be watching to see whether this year’s competition feels any different.

However, the real question is always the music, and this year there’ll be much more of it in the first round. Instead of one 45-minute recital, pianists will now play two recitals, which will help mitigate the effects of drawing a bad time slot, a minor injury, or simply an off day. Nine performances are scheduled each day starting at 11am. The semifinal round calls for a 60-minute recital of fresh material  and an additional performance of a piano quintet with the Brentano String Quartet. Musicians who reach the final round will perform two piano concertos with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, led by guest conductor Leonard Slatkin.

First prize has been doubled to $50,000, making the Van Cliburn the richest prize in music competition. –– Leonard Eureka and Kristian Lin

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The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition runs May 24-Jun 9 at Bass Performance Hall, 555 Commerce St, FW. First-round single tickets are $10-20. Passes are $260-2,000. Call 817-212-4280.