Praise for "When the World Stopped to Listen"

"A great book about a great American musician who, in the tensions of Cold War, helped move our world from war to peace."
— Sergei Khrushchev

"Exciting, thorough, and deeply moving... a most satisfying experience."
— Emanuel Ax

"...Marvelously researched and written. I couldn't put the book down."
— Yefim Bronfman

"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'..."
— AndrĂ© Watts

"A spellbinding, even a startling, adventure story, starring the legendary American pianist: a life of triumph and tragedy."
— David Dubal

"[Cliburn's] 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




Stuart Isacoff is active across North America and Europe as a writer, pianist, composer and lecturer. His ongoing presence in the cultural landscape has included presentations at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Lincoln Center, as well as at festivals around the world and regular contributions on music and art to The Wall Street Journal. Until 2014, he was on the faculty of the Purchase College Conservatory of Music and the Purchase College Conservatory of Dance (SUNY).

In addition to his latest book, When the World Stopped to Listen: Van Cliburn's Cold War Triumph and its Aftermath (Knopf), Mr. Isacoff is the author of A Natural History of the Piano: The Instrument, the Music, the Musicians—From Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between (Knopf), and of the highly acclaimed Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization (Knopf/Vintage). He is a winner of the prestigious ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for excellence in writing about music, and the 2017 recipient of the Communications Prize awarded by the Artistic Committee of Cremona Musica.

Stuart Isacoff has given lectures and piano performances both here and abroad, at such venues as The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Verbier Festival and Academy (Switzerland), Music@Menlo, the Portland Piano Festival, the Miami Piano Festival, the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, the September Music Festival (Torino), the Gina Bachauer Foundation, the Van Cliburn Piano Institute and others, as well as at such scientific institutions as the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Bradbury Science Museum and the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics.

His compositions, arrangements, editions, and instructional texts have been published by G. Schirmer, Boosey & Hawkes (London), Carl Fischer, Music Sales Corp., Warner Bros. Music, and Ekay Music, Inc. He was the founding editor of the magazine Piano Today, a position he held for nearly three decades.

Stuart Isacoff's piano recitals combine classical repertoire with jazz improvisation, demonstrating the threads that connect musical works created centuries and continents apart. Of his playing, pianist André Watts has said: "Stuart Isacoff's music-making is original and revelatory. Subtle, brilliant use of the instrument combined with a unique musical perspective, create performances of uncommon depth. Isacoff reveals his beautiful interior world with every performance."