William Perry and the Vienna Connection to The Mark Twain Series of Films

by L. Chrystal Dmitrovic

Empress Books
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Composer and conductor William Perry is featured here in a series of photos taken in Vienna, Austria, during his involvement in recording his score and following on to audio post-production of The Mysterious Stranger (1982). Broadcast on Great Performances on PBS, this Mark Twain medieval fantasy story that inspired the film is referred to in The Innocents Abroad CD liner notes as "a dream within a dream within a dream."


William Perry conducting Vienna Symphony

William Perry: Conducting the Vienna Symphony and the Vienna Boys Choir in 1982, in a recording session of the score for The Mysterious Stranger of The Mark Twain series. Up on the screen is a young Christoph Waltz in the role of Ernst Wasserman.

The Mark Twain Series involved not only my production company (The Great Amwell Company) and the Nebraska ETV Network on behalf of PBS, but there were European co-production partners in Germany, Austria, France and Italy. Each of these countries contributed actors, production personnel and shooting locations. The Mysterious Stranger was filmed in the Austrian Alps, and Austria also contributed the services of the remarkable Vienna Symphony Orchestra.

Interesting sidelight. This was the third of the Mark Twain films, and my scores for the previous two had been recorded by the Saint Louis Symphony conducted by Leonard Slatkin. He was due to conduct this third score in Vienna, but missed his plane in New York. The members of the Vienna Symphony staff came to me with small freshly cut branches from the Vienna woods since I would now be doing the conducting and would need a baton! I continued as conductor for the remainder of the series.

William Perry signing an autograph

William Perry: I am signing an autograph for the lead soloist of the Vienna Boys Choir after our recording with the Vienna Symphony of the score for The Mysterious Stranger. 1982


William Perry: With the concertmaster of the Vienna Symphony following a recording session of the score for The Mysterious Stranger. 1982

William Perry and Marc Aubort

William Perry: In an editing session in Vienna for The Mysterious Stranger with the celebrated Swiss/American recording engineer, Marc Aubort, 1982. (Vienna photos courtesy of William Perry)