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Alan Kitty <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 16 Mar 2013 23:30:49 -0400
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Presume the music one might hear at a circus of the period might have been calliope music by Stephen foster? It's a guess based on Twain's love of the easily played minstrel tunes by the composer.

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On Mar 16, 2013, at 7:22 PM, Robert E Stewart <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> In the first known article signed " Yours, dreamily, Mark Twain," reference 
> is made by Twain of his playing the piano. He wrote:  "I sat down  to the 
> piano and sang - however, what I sang is of no consequence to anybody. It  
> was only a graceful little gem from the horse opera. "
> A dictionary today says Horse Opera is "A film or other theatrical  work 
> about the American West; a western"
> The first written "westerns," often later called "Dime Novels" or "Dime  
> Westerns" made their appearance in about 1860. But of course, no western  
> movies until a long time after that. So what was the music Twain was  playing on 
> the ivory keys at former California governor J. Neely Johnson's party  in 
> Carson City? 
> The Sheboygan Journal of May 21, 1857, page one, col. three  says ". . . to 
> the circus, more tastefully termed the 'horse opera,' which last  is 
> patronized to a greater extent in this city than any other place of  amusement." I 
> found a few other newspaper references confirming it as  a mid-1800s term 
> for a Circus.
> Twain, taught piano by his sister, was tinkling out a piece  of circus 
> music of the period.
> Bob Stewart