'Texas Monthly' On Van Cliburn's Identity As A Baptist From Kilgore
In a deeply felt profile of piano prodigy turned artist-diplomat Van Cliburn, who died Wednesday, writer Prudence Macintosh unearths stories of a six-year-old boy who knew the page numbers and the notes of chapel hymnals before he could read the words. Of his childhood in Kilgore, Cliburn said in 1958: “You can’t love music enough to want to play it without other kids thinking you’re queer or something.”
He was a world-renowned piano prodigy whose romanticism and technical virtuosity inspired thousands and famously helped thaw the Cold War. But as a visit to his hometown of Kilgore made clear to me, Van Cliburn was also a Texan, a Southerner, a Baptist, a patriot, and a man who loved black-eyed peas as much as I do.