• Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013 12:01 a.m.
Thomas M. Stoker conducts a combined chorus-orchestra at the funeral of Van Cliburn at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, on Sunday.

Pianist Van Cliburn remembered

Legendary pianist Van Cliburn was remembered Sunday as a gifted musician who not only eased tensions during the Cold War but also introduced classical music to millions.

About 1,400 people attended a memorial service for Cliburn, who died Wednesday at 78 after fighting bone cancer. As the service began, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra accompanied a choir while pall bearers carried his flower-covered coffin into a Fort Worth, Texas, church.

Several speakers referred to what made Cliburn famous: winning the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958, when he was just 23. At the height of the Cold War, the win by the pianist who grew up in Texas helped thaw the icy rivalry between the United States and Soviet Union.

Former President George W. Bush said Soviets at the competition didn’t find a stereotypical Texas cowboy but a gracious, humble young man who was “beloved, even by the enemy.” Cliburn continued to spread peace and love through his music, said Bush, who presented Cliburn with the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — in 2003.

After the Moscow win, Cliburn returned to a hero’s welcome and a ticker-tape parade — the first ever for a classical musician. Time magazine proclaimed him “The Texan Who Conquered Russia.”

Rogers, founder of The Miracles, dies

Bobby Rogers, a founding member of Motown group The Miracles and a songwriting collaborator with Smokey Robinson, died Sunday at his Detroit home. He was 73.

Motown Museum board member Allen Rawls said Rogers died about 6 a.m. in Southfield, Mich. Rogers had been ill for several years.

Rogers formed the group in 1956 with cousin Claudette Rogers, Pete Moore, Ronnie White and Robinson. Their hits included “Shop Around,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” “Going to a Go-Go,” “I Second That Emotion” and “The Tears of a Clown.”

Wire reports

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