The Mighty Wurlitzer

  • (MP3)Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin
  • (MP3)Variations on "America" by Charles Ives
  • (Video)Ives again, on a really nasty electronic organ, but with really nice camera work

    Theater Organ ConsoleHere's Virgil Fox again playing the Wurlitzer organ that was originally in the Paramount Theater for the accompaniment of silent films. Theater organs are pipe organs that work the same way as church organs but with different voicing and higher wind pressures, and also other sound effects like drums, cymbals, car horns, etc. They also often had a real piano playable remotely from the organ console using a pneumatic action similar to a player piano. You can hear the piano "stop" being used in both of these recordings. The bird call was done by a small organ pipe partly under water, and the car horn is just a real car horn or something like one activated by a button on the console. Wurlitzer was to theater organs as Mack is to trucks and Scotch is to tape, but there were other makes. In fact, many of the famous pipe organ builders that are better known for church and university organs made a few theater organs back in the silent movie days. (Permission pending to use the direct-links to the Virgil Fox Legacy website).
  • 4 Comments:

    Blogger G. F. McDowell said...

    maple leaf rag on organ (more like calliope)

    Heretic!

    January 14, 2006 12:39 AM  
    Blogger AndyOfVermont said...

    Well, seeing as a calliope is, in fact, a miniature theater organ....

    Heretic to the piece, or to the organ? :)

    A certain elder of our church once said "I LOVE theater organs. They make GREAT firewood".

    January 14, 2006 1:12 AM  
    Blogger Tenon_Saw said...

    Yes it is a grim electronic isn't it!

    April 11, 2009 5:30 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The Organ in the photo here is in Toronto at Casa Loma, I took some pics of that same console while I was there a few years ago.

    -Tom G
    NJ

    June 20, 2009 6:27 PM  

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