Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 19 January 1975

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Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 19 January 1975

Postby dbennett » Thu Jan 19, 2017 6:28 am

Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) died of heart failure in his carriage-house studio at his home in Kansas City, Missouri, after completing his mural called “the Sources of Country Music" which he had completed sometime the previous evening. The mural, considered to be one of Benton's finest works, was commissioned by the Country Music Hall of Fame for $60,000. It is now worth over $1 million and is the museum's greatest asset aside from bricks and mortar, and has even been used to secure loans for other projects. Benton was one of America’s best-known painters and muralists, noted for fluid, sculpted figures showing everyday people in scenes of life in the United States. His father, Maecenas Benton, was elected four times as U.S. congressman. Maecenas named his son after his own great-uncle, Thomas Hart Benton (1782–1858), one of the first two United States Senators elected from Missouri.

Benton was commissioned two years earlier in 1973 to paint a mural of early American folk music when Norman Worrell, director of the Tennessee Arts Commission, and Tex Ritter, the famed cowboy singer, visited him in Kansas City on behalf of Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Benton said, "The sources of country music-that's it...No one should be recognizable. It should show the roots of the music-the sources-before there were records and stars." Benton once said about this project, “I'd had considerable interest in folk music of the United States in various times in my life. So I didn't have to do any research-I knew all that stuff. The problem was merely to get it together, in my own mind, about how I could represent these things in the canvas.”

The six-by-ten-foot mural was to illustrate the origins of country music called “the Sources of Country Music”, showing as Benton said people in the middle of “actual folk singing”. One of the figures in the mural is a woman with a mountain dulcimer and that dulcimer depicted in the painting was Benton’s own dulcimer that he played. Benton completed his final review of the mural the night before he died and as a result even though the work is apparently completed, it was never signed. The mural is on permanent display at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

The Ballad of Thomas Hart Benton By Justin Wolff HUMANITIES, September/October 2007 | Volume 28, Number 5:
"...As a child, Benton was exposed to the expert fiddle playing of Pappy Wise, his maternal grandfather, and the piano playing of his mother Lizzie. During the Twenties, when Benton traveled through Virginia and Arkansas on sketching trips, music spilled out of the hills—hymns, bluegrass, and folk. Benton admired the “old boys, with their rheumatic arms,” who improvised and played in keys unlike those heard in the mainstream music of the day. “I like their plaintive, slightly nasal voices,” he wrote in his autobiography, An Artist in America, “and their way of short-bowing the violin...”
https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2007/sep ... art-benton

See the excellent 27 minute video about the history and making of the mural at http://countrymusichalloffame.org/ContentPages/thomas-hart-benton1
Thomas Hart Benton1 The Sources of Country Music.jpg
benton.jpg

Thomas Hart Benton late-Victorian residence and carriage house studio in Kansas City is a state Historic Site and is worth the visit. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Hart_Benton_Home_and_Studio_State_Historic_Site

For copies of print http://www.encore-editions.com/gallery-of-artists/art_print_products/thomas-hart-benson-the-source-of-country-music-print
Last edited by dbennett on Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:04 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 19 January 1975

Postby dbennett » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:54 am

Benton Thomas Hart 4.jpg
Benton Thomas Hart 4.jpg (26.24 KiB) Viewed 498 times

Video: October 9, 2017 C-SPAN Thomas Hart Benton Home
A tour of Thomas Hart Benton’s home, including his art studio, where he died in 1975. The studio is about 9 minutes into the video.
https://www.c-span.org/video/?437356-1/thomas-hart-benton-home
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