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Russia honors Van Cliburn

Sept. 20, 2004 at 11:24 AM

MOSCOW, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. classical pianist Van Cliburn was bestowed Russia's Order of Friendship award Monday for playing charity concerts for the victims of terror attacks.

In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin bestowed the medal on Cliburn, who arrived there Friday for a 10-day visit that will include concerts Tuesday and Thursday for the victims of train and aircraft bombings, and those killed in the Beslan school takeover in recent weeks.

Putin said the awarding of the state medal was recognition of "his great personal contribution in the development of Russian-U.S. relations and merits in the cause of strengthening mutual understanding and trust of our peoples."

Cliburn, 70, won the first Tchaikovsky international competition in 1958 at the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, and will once again play Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto as part of his personal jubilee year celebration, the Itar-Tass news agency said.

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