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History of the Theatre Organ book recommendations?

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  • History of the Theatre Organ book recommendations?

    Hello friends,

    Just wondering if there's a particular book (or books) recounting the definitive history of the theatre organ someone could recommend? I see there are several options on Amazon, and I'd like to buy the best one(s) available. Also, perhaps a good documentary? Such a great instrument!! I sure hope I'm able to purchase one soon. The search continues. :->
    sigpic
    1956 Hammond C-3
    Circa 1965 Leslie 145
    1963 Hammond D-152
    1963 Hammond C-3
    1959 Hammond HR-40 Tone Cabinet
    Motion Sound Pro 3
    Motion Sound Low Pro
    1958 Hammond M-3
    C.Bechstein D282 9'3" Concert Grand
    1977 Wurlitzer 200A

  • #2
    The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ is a good set of books, but is arranged by builder, rather than any historical/chronological approach. It is in several parts, book 1, book 2, somewhat of a book 3 (on Wurlitzer alone) and a re-do of Wurlitzer by a different editor and is the better of the Wurlitzer books. The "somewhat" book 3 was originally intended to be one of 3 volumes on Wurlitzer. These books are hard to find and expensive--there is a copy of Volume 1 on Amazon for $305.00.

    The Cinema Organ by Reginald Foort is a smaller book compared to the above volumes, but I've never seen nor read it. It is probably a good book, though, and might be easier to find. Priced between $10 and $20 probably.

    Don't forget to check on abebooks.com, a good source for used and out of print books. Other used book sources are available, too. I've had luck purchasing out of country, by the way.

    Though

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    • #3
      I highly recommend the Silent Film Sound and Music Archive http://www.sfsma.org as a resource with free downloads. It's primarily about cinema music, but I've read some fascinating chapters on the history of cinema music and the development of the theatre organ. Specifically:

      There's a scan of Chapter 9 of Foort's The Cinema Organ: "Silent Pictures and Interludes". This is about the music and not the instrument. The book is from 1932 so still under copyright. You do get a nice photo of Reginald Foort looking like Conrad Poohs.

      There's a full scan of George Tootell's How to Play the Cinema Organ (1927). Chapter 1 describes organs and their capabilities in detail.

      There's also a full scan of George Beynon's Musical Presentation of Motion Pictures (1921). Chapter 2 is "The Evolution of Picture Music" and is quite interesting since the events were all recent history in 1921. It's amazing how fast it all occurred.

      These are all in SFSMA's instruction book section: http://www.sfsma.org/ARK/22915/categ...ruction-books/

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      • #4
        What a great resource! Thanks for sharing!
        sigpic
        1956 Hammond C-3
        Circa 1965 Leslie 145
        1963 Hammond D-152
        1963 Hammond C-3
        1959 Hammond HR-40 Tone Cabinet
        Motion Sound Pro 3
        Motion Sound Low Pro
        1958 Hammond M-3
        C.Bechstein D282 9'3" Concert Grand
        1977 Wurlitzer 200A

        Comment


        • #5
          Another good book is " Behold The Mighty Wurlitzer - The History of the Theatre Pipe Organ " by John W. Landon. It covers a lot of stuff, and all the builders, but it's not super detailed about construction methods of the various builders. I'm pretty sure it was published in the early 1980s. I don't have my copy right at hand, so I cant tell you the publisher.
          Regards, Larry

          At Home : Yamaha Electones : EX-42 ( X 3 !!! ), E-5AR, FX-1 ( X 2 !! ), US-1, EL-25 ( Chopped ). Allen 601D, ADC 6000D. Lowrey CH32-1. At Churches I play for : Allen Q325 ( with Vista ), Allen L123 ( with Navigator ). Rodgers 755. 1919 Wangerin 2/7 pipe organ.

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          • #6
            "The Best Remaining Seats" by Ben Hall. This book is an wonderful overview of the 'Movie Palace' and there is a large chapter on the theatre organ. Many of the photos are of organists from the 'golden era' of the theatre organ...1915 - 1930. The book is out of print, but one occasionally comes up on Amazon.

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            • Jay999
              Jay999 commented
              Editing a comment
              "Jesse Crawford, Poet of The Organ, Wizard of The Mighty Wurlitzer" by John Landon, and
              published by The Vestal Press. It's available at Amazon. This is the story of the 'superstar' of
              the theatre organ era. It gives a good insight into the history of the theatre organ, and the man
              who figured out how to register it, and play it.

          • #7
            I've found a few videos about theater organs on YouTube. It seems like the Wanamaker Organ has the most videos, at least a couple are nearly an hour in length.
            I'm so poor, my cats get free health care!

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            • Jay999
              Jay999 commented
              Editing a comment
              The Wanamaker is not really a theatre organ. Go to Youtube and look and listen for individual artists playing the theatre
              organ, like George Wright, Tom Hazelton, Don Baker, Lew Williams. Some of these are audio recordings with no video, but listening to the playing will tell you the difference between the Wanamaker organ and the theatre organ.

          • #8
            You're very right about the Wanamaker not being a theater instrument, but I do love it's sound and setting. Someday I plan to get to Philadelphia to see and hear it in person.
            I'm so poor, my cats get free health care!

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            • #9
              Probably the best, and cheapest, book to buy is "At the mighty organ". It is an easy going read with stacks of good photos and there is one on Amazon right now for about 8 quid. It`s a must-have for cinema organ buffs.

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              • #10
                PS. The above book is written by Geoffrey Wyatt and there is a copy on ebay also £8.

                Comment


                • #11
                  Remarkably, the theater organ's heyday was 18 years long and we're still celebrating its sounds 92 years into the sound era. Immortal recordings partly because they make ample use of percussions:

                  George Wright -- Flight to Tokyo
                  https://www.discogs.com/George-Wrigh...elease/4435756

                  Leonard Leigh ‎- The Mighty Wurlitzer And The Roaring Hi-Fi Twenties
                  https://www.discogs.com/Leonard-Leig...elease/2196007

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