This Steinway concert grand piano has always been at the center of the Cliburn home. It is the instrument played by Van's mother Rildia Bee, and where he has spent a considerable amount of his musical life practicing and working. The piano is being sold to honor the memory of Rildia Bee with the proceeds benefitting the Juilliard School and the Moscow Conservatory; the almae matres of Van Cliburn.
Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn, the mother of Van Cliburn and his only piano teacher until he was 17, was taught by Arthur Friedheim, a pupil of Anton Rubinstein and Franz Liszt.
She studied music from an early age in Texas, then at the Cincinnati Conservatory and at the New York School of Musical Art, which merged with the Juilliard School.
She returned to Texas in the 1920s to marry Harvey Lavan Cliburn, an oil-company executive. She continued to play publicly and gave piano lessons. She discovered her son's ability when at the age of three he went to the piano after one of her students left and played by ear the piece that had just been taught.
Mrs. Cliburn played a considerable role in her son's career, acting as an adviser, manager and inspiration.