Mark Twain

The soundtrack to the latest Ken Burns PBS documentary, Mark Twain, evokes the great American writer's world via period music and his own words.

The soundtrack to the latest Ken Burns PBS documentary, Mark Twain, evokes the great American writer's world via period music and his own words. Actor Kevin Conway reads snippets of Twain's wit and wisdom, while pianist Jacqueline Schwab and multi-instrumentalist Bobby Horton perform mostly traditional melodies from Celtic folk songs and New World hymns. Other tracks feature fiddle bands and musicians like guitarist Al Petteway in folk-inflected contemporary material. As co-producer Dayton Duncan points out in his excellent liner notes (which are illustrated by vintage photos of the author and his family making music), Twain was a parlor pianist and avid fan of music—vernacular and classical, sacred and secular. Sure to be a holiday hit, this soundtrack makes for an ideal companion to the Warner Bros. VHS/DVD-Video version of Burns' film, as well as Knopf's new illustrated biography of Twain co-written by Burns, Dayton, and Geoffrey C. Ward.—BB