Letter to Saint Andrew


Letter to Saint Andrew - (2008)    

Mark Twain

for medium voice and piano


Dear St. Andrew,
The whisky arrived in due course from over the water;
last week one bottle of it was extracted from the wood
and inserted into me, on the installment plan,
with this result: that I believe it to be
the best, smoothest whisky now on the planet.
Thanks, oh, thanks: I have discarded Peruna.   [ 1 ]
Hoping that you three are well and happy
and will be coming back before the winter sets in.
I am, Sincerely yours,

...the best, smoothest whisky.... Thanks!

[ 3 pages, circa 1' 40" ]

Mark Twain


This "Letter to Andres Carnegi" was written on February 10, 1906 to Andres Carnegi, in Scotland. The text as above is published in Letters of Mark Twain, Harper & Brothers 1917, with the exception of the repeated phrase at the end again, "the best, smoothest whisky." For those afflicted by temperance mentalities by reason of religious outlooks and politically induced self-importance, it should be noted that alcohol and tobacco possibly contributed to the early demise of mark Twain in 1910 at the tender age of 74.



The snappy syncopation is meant to immediately place this song setting in the musical genre of "Americana" as well as quickly set the key and tone of the song. The staccato bass line should be in contrast to the right hand's sustaining lines when possible.



The final wishes to the addressee and his family are meant to be in tempo throughout, and the final measures can race to their ending.



The score for Letter to Saint Andrew is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.


Letter to Saint Andrew




[ 1 ]    Peruna was a  "medicinal" elixir had a reputation as a cure-all, popular during Prohibition due to the high alcohol content legally allowed for "medicinal" purposes. From Colliers Weekly, October 28, 1905, "Peruna, or, as its owner, Dr. S. B. Hartman, of Columbus, Ohio (once a physician in good standing), prefers to write it, Pe-ru-na, is at present the most prominent proprietary nostrum in the country. It has taken the place once held by Greene's Nervura and by Paine's Celery Compound, and. for the same reason which made them popular. The name of that reason is alcohol.* Peruna, is a stimulant pure and simple, and it is the more dangerous in that it sails under the false colors of a benign purpose." It was 28 percent alcohol while legally "medicinal" during Prohibition when other forms of drinking alcohol were so foolishly made illegal.