primary evidence is Livy’s letter to Mary B. Cheney of this date: “Her father and I are both glad & sorry” about the decision to drop piano and take up voice aiming at a concert career.
Note: On Mar. 5 1899 Sam would write to James Ross Clemens, “Clara forsook the piano four months ago…”
which puts her decision to Dec. 1898. Clara’s reminiscence for Harnsberger gives an even later time, “Suddenly one day early in 1899” . A. Hoffman gives a far earlier month, June of 1898 . Why so many different times given? The mind often does not remember exact dates or even months—Sam gave four months for six months; Clara, decades later, was three months off; Hoffman gives no citation for June of 1898, except that the decision did come while the family was at Kaltenleutgeben (May – Oct.
1898). Dolmetsch illuminates the backstory in Clara’s decision:
She had apparently been persuaded to this switch by Alice Barbi, an American singer with whom she became friends. Barbi had heard Clara sing that summer at a soiree at the home of one of the aristocrats in Leschetizky’s circle who had summer houses near the Clemenses in Dr. Winternitz’s hydrotherapy resort.
Barbi was a protégé of a retired Kammersangerin (privileged diva) of the Court Opera, Marianne Brandt (stage name Marie Bischoff), one of the most acclaimed contraltos of the late nineteenth century, and Barbi somhow persuaded Frau Brandt to take Clara as a pupil during the following winter (1898-99) .
October 8 Saturday
October 9 Sunday
October 10 Monday – In Kaltenleutgeben, Austria, Sam wrote to Edward W. Bok, editor, Ladies’ Home Journal.
A good deal of the Autobiography is written, but I never work on it except when a reminiscence of some kind crops up in a strong way & in a manner forces me; so it is years too early yet to think of publishing— except now & then at long intervals a single chapter, maybe. I intend to do that. Someday. But it would not answer for your magazine.
Sam told of writing “a few days ago” what he labeled Chaper XIV, “My Debut as a Literary Person.” Livy edited it and approved it “with enthusiasm—this is unusual” and directed him to send it to replace “My Platonic Sweetheart,” but on his way to the village post office he realized there was an objectionable sentence in it so he “blocked that scheme” [MTP].
October 11 Tuesday – In Kaltenleutgeben, Austria, Sam wrote to the Paul E. Wirt Fountain Pen Co., Bloomsburg, Penn. with what appears to have been a prepared testimonial:
With a single Wirt Pen I have earned the family’s living for many years. With two, I could have grown rich. / Mark Twain [MTP].
Note: See insert: 1904 advertisement claimed that Sam used the Wirt pen for 25 years, or since 1879.
October 12 Wednesday – In Kaltenleutgeben, Austria, Sam wrote to Chatto & Windus, to give them his new address at the Hotel Krantz, NeuerMarket, Vienna. “We go there tomorrow” [MTP]. Note: The family did not check into the Krantz until Oct. 14 [NB 40 TS 47].
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.