Van Cliburn

Author remembers Cliburn’s request to change hometown size in kids book

As a former volunteer at Cliburn piano competitions, Patricia Tom Alexander knew she wanted to write a children’s book about Van Cliburn and his win at the first International Tchaikovsky Piano competition.

But first she had to get Cliburn himself to sign off on the project.

“It was hard to get Van to read it because he’s so modest,” Alexander said as she signed copies of the book in the lobby of Bass Hall on Thursday afternoon. “The only thing he changed was the number of people who lived in Kilgore at the time of his childhood.”

Alexander’s book was published in 2001 and has been sold every four years at the Cliburn competition’s gift store.

-Andrea Ahles