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My Photos of -- Van Cliburn at Lewissohn


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Here are a couple of shots I took of the wonderful Van Cliburn rehearsing at the Lewissohn Stadium in New York on August 4, 1958 shortly after his triumphant return from the Solviet Union winning the Tchaikowsky competition. That’s Thomas Sherman conducting in the first picture.


About Lewissohn for those who have never heard of it. It was an outdoor stadium located on the campus of CCNY (City College of New York) in upper Manhattan. It has long ago been demolished and replaced by campus buildings. Every summer they held outdoor concerts there with the greatest artists of the time performing.

A word on Van Cliburn. He was a very obliging and gracious young man and let me photograph him whenever I wanted to during the entire rehearsal, even back stage and outside when he autographed for anyone who asked him.


Comments anyone? Let me know what you think.




These photos are protected by copyright.


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Great photography! And using that old Contax camera? It must have a loud shutter. So for the rehearsal (or the performance with Rubinstein) I guess you must have snapped them in sync with a loud down/up beat. I wonder how you sneaked that camera in?

On another note how do you feel performances back then differed from today? Say any general cultural or individual attitude changes?


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Thanks for the replies, guys.


Taking pics at the rehearsals I attended was never a problem with most performers. These artists were all super professionals and used to all this kind of stuff. They went on with their rehearsal and never even looked at me nor objected in any way. Some were so great they even posed for me. Guiomar Novaes asked me to take shots of her after the rehearsal, which of course I did.

The two exceptions were Jascha Heifetz and Oscar Levant. They objected and made the few people that were there move back to the middle of the stadium.

The shots I took at concerts were done in such a manner that even the people sitting next to me were never aware of what I was doing. You just simply don't make a spectacle of yourself, and the shutter is not that loud that it's noticable.

Things back then were a bit easier going, without all the sophisticated electronic equipment that they have to worry about today.

I think in this present age I wouldn't be able to do it so easily.

Thanks again for your interest.


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