Bach to Books

Bach to Books is the name for the Friends’-sponsored arts and humanities series offered at the library, free to the community. Artists, writers, and musicians appear at the library and share their talents.

The main goal of Bach to Books is to share a variety of programs featuring music, dance, visual arts, literature, history and more with the people of our community for their enjoyment and enlightenment. We offer these programs free to the public, so that everybody can attend. Most events are held in the auditorium in the library.

Upcoming Events

Here are our upcoming events. Also, check the Library Calendar or call (214) 509-4911 for more information about any Bach to Books performance.

The Midnight Assassin

Thursday, August 16th at 7:30 PM

Throughout the ages, most murders involved robbery, monetary disputes, or romantic liaisons.  The mere thought of someone going on a rampage and brutally murdering strangers for no apparent reason was unfathomable.   This was certainly true in 1885 when the citizens of Austin, Texas, were confronted by a mysterious serial killer.

Skip Hollandsworth, the author of the New York Times Bestseller The Midnight Assassin, will discuss these Capitol crimes at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 16, at the Allen Public Library.

The Whiz Kids Take the Pennant: The 1950 Philadelphia Phillies

Thursday, August 23rd at 7:30 PM

Thrilling moments in baseball history are unanticipated, and the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies-—the “Whiz Kids”—were no exception.  The Phillies had been suffering a slump towards the end of the season.  Then, in an exciting Brooklyn Dodgers game that lasted ten innings during the last day of the last day of the season, the Phillies defeated the Dodgers on a three-run home run by Dick Sisler at the top of the tenth inning.  They faced the New York Yankees in the World Series.

Baseball historian C. Paul Rogers III will discuss his book The Whiz Kids Take the Pennant: The 1950 Philadelphia Phillies.  Arrive early to listen to old fashion baseball organ theatre organ music.

Dallas Banjo Band

Friday, August 24th at 7:30 PM

Although the banjo has African origins, its modern configuration is truly an American phenomenon.  Along with the fiddle, the banjo is a mainstay of American old-time music. Celebrating their twenty-ninth year, the Dallas Banjo Band appears at the Allen Public Library at 7:30 p.m. Friday, August 24.

From Dixieland to blues and rag time tunes, the Dallas Banjo Band performs a variety of musical genres.   This 20-piece band was formed in 1989 under the direction of Smokey Montgomery, formerly a banjoist with Bob Wills and the Light Crust Doughboys.  Since then, they have performed with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Garland Symphony Orchestra and America’s Got Talent.  Their arrangements appear on the soundtrack for the film, Lugosi: Hollywood’s Dracula, and oxymoronically, their songs range from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and Gorney’s “Brother, Can Spare A Dime?”

Denison Dam: Taming the Raging Red

Thursday, August 30th at 7:30

While fishing, boating or swimming in Lake Texoma, consider the tremendous engineering feat that was accomplished when the Denison dam was dedicated on July 1, 1944. At the time, the dam was the largest rolled-earth fill dam in the world.

View the documentary, Denison Dam – Taming the Raging Red at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, August 30, at the library. The film, produced by Gene Lenore Productions, will be introduced by Lenore. Watch the construction footage of the dam as it was being built, showing 20-foot diameter pipes which water from the lake flows through the intake structure to the power house and the Denison Dam floodgates. Colored corrected 16mm film from the 1940s and 1950s was transferred to high definition. Included in this footage are speed boat races on the lake and the
1957 flood that sent water roaring over the lake’s spillway for the first time.

Diamond Bill and Texas Anthems presented by Ken Byler

Friday, August 31st at 7:30 PM

Allen native Ken Byler shares Diamond Bill’s story, one of the most treasured tales in Texas folklore, and the history of Texas anthems at 7:30 p.m. Friday, August 31, at the Allen Public Library.   Among the songs Ken will tell the stories of include “Texas, Our Texas” and “Will You Come to the Bower?”  Ken will be accompanied by a quartet that will include a fiddle, harmonica and vocals.

Compiled by the late Texas folklorist J. Frank Dobie, Diamond Bill is the story of a man’s pet rattlesnake.  Where else but Texas would a person carry their pet rattlesnake in their satchel?   But this was no ordinary rattlesnake!  The late J. Frank Dobie taught at the University of Teas and penned over two dozen books, including Coronado’s Children and A Vaquero of the Brush Country.


Dust Bowl: American Stories at Allen Folk Festival

Saturday, September 5th at 7:30 PM

When the Dust Bowl roared through Texas and Oklahoma, it intensified the misery of the Great Depression. Countless people fled their dirt-ravaged farms and headed to urban areas seeking employment and housing.

American roots recording artist Grant Maloy Smith, whose recent album “Dust Bowl: American Stories” was inspired by this period of American history, will perform for the annual Allen Folk Festival at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 15 at the Allen Public Library.

With an artful blend of country, bluegrass, folk, Smith will take you on a tour through the Dust Bowl where thousands of tons of dirt simply blew away, rising into terrifying black clouds. But within the hardships endured lie stories of love, joy, and the stiff backbone of the American rancher and farmer.

Princess Maria Anna of Austria

Princess Maria Anna of Austria and Suzanne Pearson

Thursday, September 13th at 7:30 PM

Her Royal Highness Princess Maria Anna of Austria and Suzanne Pearson will discuss the life and legacy of Charles I, or Emperor Karl, the last emperor of the Austrian Hungarian Empire at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 13, at the Allen Public Library.  Princess Maria Anna was born in Belgium in 1954 as the eldest child of Archduke Rudolf, son of Emperor Charles I.  Suzanne Pearson is an established authority on the life, character and place in history of this revered Hapsburg monarch.

After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, Charles became heir apparent to the throne.  In 1916, Franz Joseph died after reigning for 66 years and Charles became the new emperor. By this time World War I had been going on for two years, and Charles immediately initiated efforts to press for peace. All of his efforts were met with rigid resistance from both the Allies and the Germans.

making of the film, giant

Making of the Legendary American Film, “Giant”

Thursday, September 20th at 7:30 PM

The Hollywood epic “Giant” (1956) was the first blockbuster film shot on location in Texas.   George Stevens garnered an Oscar for Best Director and the film received nine Oscar nominations.   The production of Giant garnered huge media attention, including megastars Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean.  For the then-desolate and impoverished town of Marfa, it meant sorely needed income for local citizens who served as extras, laundry detailers, cooks, and maids.

Lucas native Don Graham will discuss his book Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 20. at the Allen Public Library.

Mr. Graham’s book explores the interpersonal relationships between Taylor, Dean and Hudson and the challenges director George Stevens had to overcome to produce this cinematic masterpiece.  Wooing Texans over was his first challenge since Edna Ferber’s novel Giant was despised by most Texans.  Stevens invited amateur film clubs to Marfa to shoot the acting and production. The author points out, “How many times would you have the chance to see Elizabeth Taylor up close?”

New Jerusalem Choir

Black Gospel: Robert F. Darden and the New Jerusalem Baptist Choir

Sunday, September 23rd at 3:00 PM

Black gospel music has proved to be one of America’s most phenomenal musical genres.  Robert Darden will discuss the Black Gospel Restoration Project, followed by a performance from the New Jerusalem Baptist Choir, at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, September 23, at the Allen Public Library.

Through the use of stunning audio recordings, Mr. Darden will highlight various facets of Black Gospel music.

Mr. Darden is the founder of the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project at Baylor University, the world’s largest initiative to identify, acquire, digitize, categorize and eventually make accessible fast-vanishing vinyl of gospel music from gospel’s Golden Age (1945-1970). The Black Gospel Music Restoration project provides the gospel music for the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History & Culture.

the polio years in texas

The Polio Years in Texas: Battling a Terrifying Unknown

Thursday, September 27th at 7:30 PM

By the early 20th Century American parents were gripped by a horrifying fear that their children might contract the contagious polio virus.  Although the disease had a cruel preference for children, adults were affected as well.  President Franklin Roosevelt was struck with polio at age 39.  Reports of outbreaks frequently lead to swimming pools and movie theaters closing, and in some cases, entire communities being quarantined.  Houston and Harris Counties, Texas, had the second-highest rate of infection in the nation.

Thus, sighs of relief could be heard across the nation when Jonas Salk introduced the first polio vaccine in 1955.

At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, Dr. Heather Wooten will discuss her award-winning book The Polio Years in Texas: Battling a Terrifying Unknown at the Allen Public Library. This book received the T. R. Fehrenbach Book Award by the Texas Historical Commission and the East Texas Historical Association’s Ottis Lock Endowment Award, Best Book category.

Orchestra of New Spain

Orchestra of New Spain and the Convivencia

Friday, September 28th at 7:30 PM

Experience the Orchestra of New Spain and the music of the three cultures co-habiting in Medieval Spain – Christian, Arabic and Sephardic at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28 at the Allen Public Library.

From the 711 occupation of the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors until the end of the 14th century, Christian, Muslim and Jewish populations of Spain lived and worked together in relative peace. This cohabitation (in Spanish, Convivencia) was marked by rich intercultural influences that were evident throughout peninsula.  This concert will feature soloists and period instruments from the Orchestra singing the famous Cantigas (songs) de Santa Maria, SMU’s World Music Ensemble “Beledi” and their lively jazz-like works from the Muslim tradition, and modern interpretations of haunting Sephardic music.

The Orchestra of New Spain is a period-instrument baroque orchestra and chorus specializing in, but not limited to, the music of Spain and its sphere of New Worlds influence. Created in 1989 for as the Hispanic offering for the opening of the Meyerson Symphony Center and to celebrate the Hispanic orientation of the Guadalupe Cathedral in the life of the aborning Dallas Arts District, the orchestra is a significant purveyor of Spanish baroque musical masterworks and has produced two CDs.

Wally Funk: America's first Female Astronaut

America’s First Female Astronaut, Wally Funk

Saturday, September 29th at 3:00 PM

Most Americans can name at least one of the Mercury 7 astronauts who were the first to fly into outer space, but what about the women who were considered for this endeavor?  Wally Funk had “the right stuff” but was denied the possibility of traveling into outer space because of her gender.

In the early 60s, 13 women endured secret tests to determine if they could become astronauts.  The Mercury 13, as they are now known, underwent and passed the same rigorous mental and physical tests as the men of Mercury 7.

Featured on the BBC, NPR and Netflix, Ms. Funk is in high demand as a speaker.  An aviator for over 63 years and a member of the Mercury 13, she will share her story 3:00 p.m. Saturday, September 29, at the Allen Public Library.