There are reams of sheet music connected with stage productions of Twain's
works during his lifetime, as well as music about Twain, and they
proliferate after his death, but the only two that come to mind that seem to
use Twain's own words for their lyrics are:
MARK TWAIN'S GOOD-BYE. Published in 1935 for the birthday centennial. See
EARLY TALES AND SKETCHES, p. 125 for the text and an accurate date of
composition (1856, not 1853). All of the poems Twain wrote in young ladys'
autograph albums should be viewed with caution since it was quite common for
young men to copy such poems from booklets that were published for the
express purpose of supplying young men poems for just such special occasions
(courtship, deaths, partings, illnesses, holidays). Some of these
commonplace poems even had blank spaces for the insertion of names, dates,
and places to personalize them. The text of this poem is utterly
conventional, as are others that he "wrote" at this time, and when combined
with later music, the result is less than inspiring.
PUNCH, BROTHERS, PUNCH! Twain's version of this jingle was inspired by a
poem published in a newspaper in 1875. Twain's version of the poem was set
to music in 1876 and published by Oliver Ditson in Boston. The version of
the poem published in Cincinnati & Chicago with additional words by A. O.
Hand, also in 1876, is not Twain's version. See BAL 3366F and Kent
Rasmussen's entry for PBP in MT,A-Z for a full discussion.
I have both of these sheet music pieces and would be happy to mail you
photocopies. Curious, I plunked out both of these on the piano, and the
GOOD-BYE is terrible --just like the worst music from the worst movies of
the 1930s. But the melody for PBP is not too bad, and the chorus is quite
catchy, the music well matched to the lyrics. But my personal tastes, like
Twain's, are for Chopin nocturnes and old slave songs and spirituals.
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----- Original Message -----
From: "Johnston, Marjorie" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, March 04, 2004 3:33 PM
Subject: Twain lyrics
> The Chicago Symphony Singers are programming some American sets, and we
> would be interested=20
> in any Mark Twain texts that have been set to music (choral, solo, or
> small vocal ensemble). Thanks
> for any help you can give.
> Marjorie Johnston
> Music Librarian
> Chicago Symphony Chorus
> 312-294-3423 fax 312-294-3234