Saturday, January 25, 2014 'Blind Tom' Wiggins' 1880 piano 'duel' with John William Boone in Columbia, MO to be reenacted March 3, 2014

The Ballad of Blind Tom, Slave Pianist 
by Deirdre O'Connell
has been partially excerpted at AfriClassical Blog.
Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins (1849-1908) 
is profiled at
which features a complete Works List 
by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, 

Columbia Daily Tribune
Columbia, Missouri

Blind pianists' duel was a sight to behold

The date: March 3, 1880.
The event: "Blind Tom" Wiggins, a 31-year-old ex-slave, autistic and illiterate, was to perform on the piano at Garth Hall in Columbia.
"Blind Tom" was one of the best-known pianists in the country when he came on stage at Garth Hall in what became one of the most exciting evenings in Columbia's long and diverse musical history.
As usual, he set about playing his own compositions, including the famous "Battle of Manassas," then accepting challenges from the audience.
One of those challenges came from a 15-year-old pianist, also blind, named John William Boone, known then as "Willie."
Young Boone had recently come to Columbia after a lifetime of being used and abused because of his amazing ability to do what Blind Tom could do on the piano.

A huge crowd was on hand when [John] Lange sprang Willie Boone on Blind Tom. Melissa Fuell-Cuther's 1915 story of Boone's life tells us, "The big crowd roared and cheered when he completed his selection. Blind Tom complimented and encouraged the youngster." The Columbia Statesman praised Blind Tom for his performance but failed to mention Boone.
Fuell-Cuther added: "This great musical [duel] was one long to be remembered by the vast throng." Locals felt Boone was the winner of the alleged duel.
Now comes a replay of that magical moment.
On Monday, March 3, at the Boone County Historical Society, Columbians will be treated to a modern version of that 1880 evening. The Boone Piano Trust is sponsoring an evening of piano on Boone's famous 1891 Chickering Grand.

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