Last Friday, I blogged about Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy gushing in anticipation of Van Cluburn’s scheduled performance of the national anthem at Cowboys Stadium.

That performance wasn’t yet available on YouTube, so I posted videos other local musicians who have tackled the daunting anthem.

Now Cliburn’s performance is posted and, well, let’s just say that Kennedy’s praise might have been premature and overstated.


I’m no piano expert, but it sure sounds like the old master hits some stinkers in this performance:

Then again, Cliburn looks happy and proud after he finished the song, so maybe he was including “jazz” notes in his arrangement. (That’s an old musician’s trick — when you hit a stinker note, call it jazz and keep on playing.)


  1. There may be some missed notes in there, but it’s hard to tell how many because of the audio quality. We’re dealing with a grand piano at a cavernous outdoor venue that (everybody seems to agree) offers poor acoustics. I don’t know anyone who has figured out how to properly mike a piano under those circumstances. That plummy Steinway may very well have sounded fantastic if you were standing next to it, but filtered through that sound system, it’s no wonder that some of the notes got smudged.

    If you want a classical piano recording of “The Star-Spangled Banner” with better audio, scroll to the 5:00 mark of this clip:

  2. This was not a “jazz” arrangement! He added octaves and filled in chords
    because it was a large venue. I believe the pick-up on the lower part of
    the keyboard was behind that of the upper registers. He would not have played like we heard it, that was like an old lady pianist in a small church!
    There were not wrong notes, just heard in an odd sequence. Just ask him!