NEW YORK: KNOPF
When the World Stopped to Listen
Van Cliburn's Cold War Triumph, and Its Aftermath
“When the World Stopped to Listen is a great book about a great American musician who, in the tensions of Cold War, helped move our world from war to peace, from direct confrontation to peaceful coexistence.”
— Sergei Khrushchev, author, Khrushchev in Power
"Stuart Isacoff's book is an exciting, thorough, and deeply moving reminder of Van Cliburn's triumph at the Tchaikovsky Competition. His penetrating comments on the elements that made Cliburn's playing so profoundly involving, and his sympathetic chronicle of the pianist's life, make this book a most satisfying experience."
— Emanuel Ax, musician
"A gripping story of an iconic American pianist, set in a dark era of the Cold War. A great read, not only for musicians, marvelously researched and written. I couldn't put the book down.
— Yefim Bronfman, concert pianist
“Stuart Isacoff lets us relive the career-birth of an American musical hero and a politically momentous event as profound as the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Beautifully written, this is an insider's report of the onstage and offstage drama around the 1958 triumph of Van Cliburn and the incredible musical events that led to a Cold War 'thaw' which changed the musical and political history of the world."
— André Watts, concert pianist
“Within the orbit of complex musical and Cold War intrigues, Stuart Isacoff, a stellar researcher, tells a spellbinding, even a startling, adventure story, starring the legendary American pianist: a life of triumph and tragedy.”
— David Dubal, The Juilliard School
“When the World Stopped to Listen, a remarkably candid, sensitive, and level-headed narration of Van Cliburn’s life, paints a broad and enlightening picture of the Soviet Union and the United Stated during Cliburn’s musical ascendency. His triumph and subsequent career can be understood only in the context of Cold War political, social, and musical tensions, a heady mix that Stuart Isacoff examines with unusual skill.
— Garrick Ohlsson, concert pianist
“With Van Cliburn's remarkable victory in the 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition as centerpiece, Stuart Isacoff has given us a sensitive, in-depth portrait of the triumphs and tragedies which plagued Cliburn for the rest of his life.”
— Martin Bookspan, broadcaster
“The singular odyssey of the Cold War’s remarkable pianistic icon is recounted in a breathtaking synergy of unprecedented worldwide scholarship, fervent musical insight, and virtuoso storytelling. Stuart Isacoff recreates in telling detail the sights and sounds of an extraordinary time and voyage, one whose resonance continues both musically and diplomatically to this day. For any follower of matters cultural, societal, or historical, this is a volume that is most simply, and admirably, indispensable.”
— Sara Davis Buechner, pianist
“Filled with behind-the-scenes stories and rare eyewitness accounts, this book will delight lovers of music and history alike. Stuart Isacoff finds the perfect balance of the private, public, cultural and political dimensions of Van Cliburn's life.”
— Alek Laskowski, classical music broadcaster
"Extensively researched and illuminating, When the World Stopped to Listen revisits the 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow from a broader perspective, providing new information about that event and its elusive winner, Van Cliburn.
— Barbara Jepson, President, Music Critics Association of North America