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Virtuoso pianist Claudio Arrau, one of the century's finest concert players, was buried Sunday at his Chilean birthplace.

Arrau, renowned for masterly interpretations of Beethoven, died in Austria on June 9 at age 88.Throngs of Chileans, many of whom had never heard his music, lined the road from Santiago to Chillan to bid a last farewell to Arrau.

They clapped, waved white handkerchiefs and threw petals at his hearse draped in a Chilean flag as it drove 248 miles south to Chillan, a small town where Arrau was born in 1903.

The musician received a gun salute reserved for statesmen before burial.

A child prodigy who learned to read music before words, Arrau gave his first concert in Chillan at the age of five and became known as the "Chilean Mozart."

When he was seven, he went to Berlin to study and never lived in Chile again but retained his Chilean citizenship after becoming a naturalized American in 1979.