Nikita Khrushchev

"Is he the best? Then give him the prize!"

-his response, when asked by the selection committee of the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 whether they were allowed to give an American, Van Cliburn, the first prize of a competition that initially set out to prove Russian cultural superiority after the scientific success of Sputnik. Van Cliburn performed Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto in the final round. His recording of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto was the first classical album to ever "go platinum."