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Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jan 27, 2020.
Well that's good news. I was afraid I might have to pass this one up.
And that would have been your loss.
I have a book which I frustratingly cannot find which was put out by WQXR in the 60s Something like a Listener's Guide to Classical Music. One of the writers speaks about first hearing classical music played by orchestras during silents in the midtown Manhattan movie palaces. I'm sure the Liebestod was played to death. They managed even to find a place for Bruckner.
Eugene Ormandy got his start as a conductor in the orchestra at the Capitol on Broadway which according to Wikipedia had 77 musicians.
Anybody remember the string of silents presented by channel 13 in the '70s? They were all accompanied by an organ(and introduced by Lillian Gish) and Pauline Kael complained in print that they should have had orchestral accompaniment as originally presented. PBS responded something to the effect that 'you and about 10 other people care.' I was one of the very few who watched. I don't think channel 13 ever did it again.
I'm sure. I've already skipped the blu ray of The Covered Wagon for just such a reason. I could (and have) turned off the sound on silent films with organs and put a CD on but it's such a hassle.
It sounds like that you're referring to the Killiam Silent Years series. I think there were two or three distinct "seasons" - the first had introductions by Orson Welles and the second with Lillian Gish. Some of those introductions have been included as extras on various DVD and blu-rays. Most of these Killiam presentations were with piano scores by William Perry (most of which were wonderful), but a handful of them did have organ scores mostly by Lee Erwin. As for Kael, she was partially incorrect. The elaborate orchestral accompaniment (like Ormandy) would have only been found at the more prestigious theaters in areas like NYC. Outside of those areas (and even inside) you would have been far more likely to encounter organs and/or small three to five player bands. Piano only scoring would have been found primarily in smaller town theaters. A 1922 survey in "Motion Picture News" reported that 45% of theaters used organ, 30% used orchestral, and 25% piano. Yes, classical music was a big staple in silent era scoring, and you can hear that first-hand with period Vitaphone and Movietone tracks.
Sort of a shame especially since the theater organ score for "The Covered Wagon" is one of the best examples in terms of performance and recording (theater organs can be difficult to record). Then again, remember that the weirdo typing this considers "All About Eve" a pretentious snooze-fest, and I'm sure that's my loss.
I keep a small CD boombox in my theater room for occasions where a score is completely lacking (a lot of foreign archives are making their silent era holdings are available on youtube but no scores are included) or when I find a score doesn't work well with the film (like most of Alloy's work in my opinion). A few CDs of Chopin and Brahms normally suffices.
There is a major need for organ music. At certain points an orchestra must get a break. Cue the organist. Very, very important, and part of our overall plan.
Agree 100% about the silent films at Film Forum, and based on this review by Robert Harris I will definitely purchase Blood And Sand.
I too wish Warners would release a few other silent films. The Garbo films especially, though "silent", have a very modern sensibility and were big audience hits when I saw revivals of them many years ago at the old Regency on the Upper West Side.
Yes these orchestras were also playing for the stage show in the major first run downtown movie places that had continuous performances. So certain performances had to use the organ. I wonder if these were noted in advertisements for audiences.
It looks amazing. Much better than I've ever seen it. The music is pretty good. The commentary is outstanding. Please let him do everything from now on. His wit is razor-sharp and he packs in so much information in every second.