Thursday, October 14, 2010

All of us contain Music & Truth

This Saturday, The Mark Twain House will collaborate with many of our neighbors to present an evening of Music and Truth related to our favorite author, Mark Twain. "Music and Truth: A Tribute to Twain" will be held at Immanuel Congregational Church across the street from The Mark Twain House on Farmington Avenue. The following remarks will be the opening to the event.

When Mark Twain was living in Vienna in 1898, he heard an impressive piano recital by Stefan Czapka, a fellow student of his daughter Clara. Afterward, he autographed a photo for Czapka, and inscribed above it: “All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can't get it out.”

Tonight a number of talented and lively musicians, actors and readers will get the truth out, with a vengeance. Acclaimed pianist Paul Bisaccia, Hartford Children’s Theatre, the professional choral ensemble Voce, and The Mark Twain House & Museum are all contributing to celebrate the music Samuel Clemens both loved and loathed, along with readings from his beloved works. Highlights will include selections from the musical The Apple Tree (based on Twain’s “The Diaries of Adam & Eve”), spirituals and popular tunes from the Victorian Era, a world premiere of a piano piece by Hartford composer (and Twain contemporary) Dudley Buck, a little sampling of Richard Wagner, a composer who failed to measure up to Twain’s standards (Twain said in A Tramp Abroad that “Some of Wagner’s operas bang on for six whole hours on a stretch!”).

It’s deeply appropriate that this concert is being held at Immanuel Congregational Church, which is instutionally descended from the Rev. Horace Bushnell’s church – Bushnell the rebel theologian and park-builder, who in old age used to drive his carriage at high speed down Farmington Avenue, kicking up the dust in front of Sam Clemens’ house. Clemens knew and admired Bushnell, and used the reverend’s famous book on child-rearing to help raise his three high-maintenance daughters.

According to tradition, when Immanuel was built across the street from his Hartford house one year after that Vienna piano recital, Sam Clemens, back in town on a visit, dubbed it “the Church of the Holy Oil Cloth.” The unusual green-and-cream patterns on its façade reminded him of the standard colors and patterns of oil cloth, the material used on kitchen floors before linoleum was invented.

The Mark Twain House & Museum is proud to participate in this major event in the Woodland Concert series, paying tribute to Twain on the Centennial of his death – and the 175th anniversary of his birth. As neighbors of the church, we have been happy to partner with it in this effort as we have partnered with many other community groups – continuing our role as an important site in Hartford, the place that Mark Twain called chief among all the cities he had seen.

- Julia Pistell & Steve Courtney

“Music & Truth: A Tribute to Twain” is sponsored by Reid and Riege, P.C., The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation, Hartford Dental Group and St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the J. Walton Bissell Foundation, Inc., and Barbara David.. The event is one in the museum’s continuing series of Mark Twain 2010 Centennial Celebration events . The Hartford Financial Group, Inc., is the Mark Twain House & Museum’s Centennial Sponsor.

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