Over the next few years, Cliburn’s international popularity continued as he recorded pieces ranging from Mozart to a concerto by American Edward McDowell. Still, having been trained by some of the best Russian teachers in the world, Cliburn’s heart was Russian, with the Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff concertos.
After 1990, Cliburn toured Japan numerous times and performed throughout the United States. He was in the midst of a 16-city U.S. tour in 1994 when his mother died at age 97.
Cliburn, who made his home in Fort Worth, endowed scholarships at many schools, including Juilliard, which gave him an honorary doctorate, and the Moscow and Leningrad conservatories. In December 2001, he was presented with the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors Medallion at the televised tribute held in Washington.
He practiced daily and performed limited engagements until only recently. His last public appearance came in September at the 50th anniversary of the prestigious piano competition bearing his name.
Speaking to the audience in Fort Worth, he saluted the many past contestants, the orchestra and the city: “Never forget: I love you all from the bottom of my heart, forever.” The audience responded with a roaring standing ovation.