Cliburn Piano Contest Kicks Off in Fort Worth

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) The 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition kicks off Friday in North Texas.

Thirty contestants from 12 countries will start competing in the preliminary round of the competition that's held every four years in Fort Worth. Awards will be presented June 9.

Some teachers and residents who wanted to honor Cliburn created the contest in 1962.

In 1958 he gained worldwide fame and rock-star status by winning the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. His win also helped thaw the icy rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union.

He died in February at age 78 at his Fort Worth home after battling bone cancer. He was never a judge in the Cliburn competition but presented awards.

The contest remains among the top showcases for the world's best pianists.