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[BKARTS] Musical biography of Rosenbach Brothers

Philly Fringe 2004 presents Ben Katchor and Mark
Mulcahy's The Rosenbach
Company: A Tragicomedy

Produced by the Rosenbach Museum & Library to
commemorate the museum's
50th anniversary, The Rosenbach Company: A Tragicomedy
is a rousing
interpretation of the eccentric and passionate lives
of the museum's
founders, created by Obie award-winning artist Ben
Katchor and
singer/songwriter Mark Mulcahy.

The Rosenbach Company: A Tragicomedy explores the
legendary lives,
legacy, and collections of Dr. Abraham Simon Wolf
Rosenbach, an
internationally known dealer and collector of rare
books and
manuscripts, and his brother and business partner
Philip, purveyor of
fine art and antiquities. Born and based in
Philadelphia, the brothers
established a lucrative business, and spent much of
their lives
co-residing in a stately townhouse on DeLancey Place.
Often the subject
of international controversy stemming from their
purchases of the most
beloved and well known works of literature, including
the original
manuscripts of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and
James Joyce's
Ulysses, the Rosenbach brothers' names became as
widely recognized as
the prestigious collections they helped to build,
which include some of
the most significant libraries of the last century
(the Morgan, Widener,
Huntington, and Folger libraries, among others). The
brothers' own
extensive collection of rare books, manuscripts, and
fine and decorative
arts has survived and today serves as the core of the
museum's holdings.
The Rosenbach Company offers a story full of chutzpah,
back-room deals,
and family drama.

Using projected works of animation enhanced by live
actors, singers, and
musicians, The Rosenbach Company: A Tragicomedy - the
first of its kind
for the Rosenbach Museum - is a concert-style
performance celebrating
the brothers and a slice of Philadelphia history. The
story follows
Philip and Abe Rosenbach from childhood, to the
establishment of a
business partnership as adults, to the dissolution of
the partnership
upon the death of one brother. The musical explores
the complexity of a
relationship between two brothers with differing
aesthetic values, and
portrays the strange dynamic that led to one of the
most successful and
influential partnerships in the city's history. The
Rosenbach Company
reveals how Abe's brilliant efforts in bookselling
financed Philip's
aesthetic adventures and business schemes, and how
Philip's commercial
ambitions spurred Abe toward greater feats of
salesmanship. The story
touches upon a number of issues: the nature of
collecting as a
passionate, sometimes obsessive act; the intricacies
of running a family
business; cultural pursuits versus commercial
ambition; and, above all,
the significance of two men in the history of some of
the world's
greatest literary and artistic treasures.

About the Artists:
Ben Katchor and Mark Mulcahy first began working
together on the rock
music theater piece The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island,
or The Friends of
Dr. Rushtower. The New York Times has described
Katchor as "the most
poetic, deeply layered artist ever to draw a comic
strip." Katchor's
work has been featured in several newspapers and
magazines, including
The New Yorker. Collections of his cartoons have been
published both
here and abroad; they include Julius Knipl, Real
Estate Photographer
(1996, Little, Brown & Co.), and The Jew of New York
(2000, Pantheon
Books). He has also created and produced radio and
theater pieces based
on his works, including Carbon Copy Building, an Obie
collaboration with New York composers Bang on a Can.
Katchor has been
awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim, the American
Academy in Berlin,
and the prestigious MacArthur "genius" grant. Mark
Mulcahy has been on
the rock music scene for nearly 20 years. As the front
man of Miracle
Legion, he toured the United States and Europe with
the Sugarcubes,
10,000 Maniacs, and Aztec Camera. As a solo artist, he
toured with Jeff
Buckley, Oasis, Seal, and Elliot Smith. His work is
featured on CDs and
music television stations, as well as on television
and film
soundtracks, including The Adventures of Pete and
Pete, Spring Forward,
The Crush, and A Matter of Degrees. At a recent
concert, the band
Radiohead dedicated a song to him, and Mojo Magazine
says of him:
"Mulcahy not only plays all the instruments but
overlays his own vocal
harmonies and counterparts in a set of emotionally
involving, highly
personal songs. This man is very much a
singer-songwriter to be filed
alongside Tim Buckley, Neil Young or Jackson Browne."

Friday, September 10: 8pm
Saturday, September 11: 2pm*, 8pm
Sunday, September 12: 8pm
*2pm matinee on Saturday will include a post-show
conversation with the

Venue: The Adrienne Theater, 2030 Sansom Street

Tickets: $15 / $12 students, seniors, and Rosenbach

Box Office: 215.413.1318 (opens August 23)
Online: www.livearts-fringe.org (tickets available
August 9)

Exhibition of Ben Katchor's original drawings:
October 2004 at the Rosenbach


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