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Sibelius Mentions Mark Twain, FDR and Harry Truman’s Daughter

Item: 23007
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SIBELIUS, JEAN. (1865-1957). Finnish composer; creator of the tone poem Finlandia and other 20th-century masterpieces. TLS. (“Jean Sibelius”). 2/3p. 8vo. Järvenpää, December 5, 1949. To CYRIL CLEMENS (1902-1999), a cousin of celebrated American author Mark Twain (1835-1910) and president of the International Mark Twain Society.

Please accept my most cordial thanks for your good wishes for my Birthday which I was very pleased to receive.

The newspaper article about President Truman’s daughter I have read with much interest. To my greatest regret, however, the book about Mark Twain and F. D. Roosevelt has not reached me. I suppose it has gone lost en route as so many other parcels addressed to me…best wishes for Christmas…”

Russia’s increasing suppression of Finland in the late 1890s galvanized a burgeoning Finnish patriotism. Among its expressions was the November 1899 “Press Celebrations,” for which Sibelius composed his now celebrated tone poem, Finlandia, which “represents Sibelius’ second great direct contribution [the first being Song of the Athenians] to the work of political resistance in Finland… In the efforts to convince the world that Finland was something other than a number of governments under the scepter of the Autocrat of Russia, Finlandia was of greater significance in its day than hundreds of pamphlets and newspaper articles,” (Jean Sibelius, Ekman).

photo of Sibelius

Jean Sibelius

Although he enjoyed several prolific decades after composing Finlandia, by the time our letter was written, the 84-year-old Sibelius had been in retirement at Järvenpää for many years, having composed virtually no new works since the 1920s. Despite his relative isolation, Sibelius still enjoyed enormous worldwide popularity and public veneration, as evidenced by our letter, sending thanks for birthday wishes.

Clemens founded the International Mark Twain Society in 1930, on whose behalf he corresponded with notable figures including Sigmund Freud, Ernest Hemingway, Ogden Nash, Richard Nixon, Anwar Sadat, and George Bernard Shaw, among others. Our letter likely regards Clemens’ article “F.D. Roosevelt and Mark Twain” published in the Dalhousie Review, Volume 25, Number 3, 1945, which recount’s former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (1882-1945) acceptance of the Mark Twain Gold Medal. Clemens also edited numerous related publications and penned the biographies My Cousin Mark Twain, published in 1939, and The Man from Missouri: A Biography of Harry S. Truman, published in 1945.

Our letter also mentions a newspaper article about Margaret Truman (1924-2008), the only child of President Harry S Truman, who was frequently in the news during her father’s presidency and who enjoyed a career as a coloratura soprano from 1946 until 1957, when she transitioned into the field of journalism. The article to which Sibelius refers may be coverage related to Margaret’s November 20, 1949 first Carnegie Hall performance or her appearance one week later with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.

Signed in pencil. Folded with nominal wear and in very good condition. Accompanied by the original envelope.

Sibelius Mentions Mark Twain, FDR and Harry Truman’s Daughter

$1145 • item #23007

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