Behold the Mighty Wurlitzer: The History of the Theatre Pipe Organ

Behold the Mighty Wurlitzer: The History of the Theatre Pipe Organ

Behold the Mighty Wurlitzer: The History of the Theatre Pipe Organ

Behold the Mighty Wurlitzer: The History of the Theatre Pipe Organ

Synopsis

John W. Landon, himself a theatre pipe organist, has written the first history of the theatre pipe organ. He traces its development from church organ to a theatrical instrument that took the place of a piano. Landon also discusses the pipe organ's later emergence as a solo instrument, its use in radio broadcasting and phonograph records, and its present uses. The book also includes a history of those companies that built theatre organs and biographical sketches of some of the leading theatre organists. The appendixes list theatre organ installations around the world.

Excerpt

The theatre organ is really an extraordinarily remarkable piece of mechanism. It was basically evolved by Hope-Jones from the church organ for one single purpose--to provide an accompaniment for silent motion pictures with a sound removed as far as possible from that of a church organ and designed to take the place of the inadequate "relief pianist." It was virtually a "one-man" band and, with its vast range of beautiful solo stops and tonal combinations, it became, almost overnight, a marvelous instrument of entertainment. In a few years, it had evolved so rapidly that by 1924 Jesse Crawford, dean of American theatre organists, was playing a big four manual Wurlitzer in the Chicago Theatre, and a couple of years later, had become world-famous at the New York Paramount, mainly through his duets with his wife Helen on two consoles.

The difficulty in those early years was to find suitable performers to play these strange instruments. It was useless to employ a church organist, as he would not have the essential ability and experience in playing the variety of light music required; equally it was no good using the pianist out of the orchestra, as he couldn't play with his feet and had little idea what to do with the stops. In the hands of a capable performer, the theatre organ could produce a magical accompaniment to every variety of silent movie, especially the comedies where the organist could improvise and fit the movements on . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.