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H.L. Mencken and his music

H.L. Mencken loved beer, wordplay and music -- not necessarily in that order. He and a small group of friends met regularly in Baltimore to play together -- H.L. on the piano -- and the group eventually became known as The Saturday Night Club.

"Some of the performers were dpownright poor and some were highly skilled professionals," Louis Cheslock wrote in H.L. Mencken on Music (Knopf, 1961). "To be a member one had to be, first of all, a genuine lover of music. If he could play -- fine! If not, he had to listen. His conversation had to be worth while, and he had to be able to hold his own at the beer table."

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The camaraderie continued for decades, and now the Enoch Pratt Free Library is offering a taste of the club. In an exhibition that began Monday and runs until Sept. 12, the Pratt will display 650 compositions by four club members: Gustav Strube, Theodor Hemberger, Emma Hemberger, and Adolph Torovsky. Letters written by Mencken to club members about music will also be on display.

And don't forget that Sept. 12 is the annual Mencken Day celebration at the Pratt, which has the largest Mencken collection in the world, owning three-fourths of his estate.

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