The lucky folks who attended the Texas History Museum Foundation’s annual Texas Independence Day dinner last night witnessed virtuoso performances by Fort Worth piano legend Van Cliburn and former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby, both honored as “History-Making Texans” at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Cliburn managed to weave his personal history with the state’s (Who knew Cliburn’s family had close ties to Sam Rayburn?) while reflecting on the simple mathematical elegance of composition, the ability of music to transcend geopolitical boundaries and Texas values in a speech that was, at different turns, both funny and cerebral. Hobby, teased in an introduction by his friend Max Sherman as a man notoriously stingy with words, gave what had to be the funniest speech of his life, which he delivered in a style reminiscent of your favorite college professor. Freed by his retirement from the bonds of political correctness, Hobby delivered some hilarious zingers to the State Board of Education, the current Texas Senate and others in a tribute to the more offbeat characters and moments in Texas history. (Note that his remarks at the beginning refer to a short film shown before his speech.)
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