Wednesday, December 02, 2009

When The Organ Played

Recently purchased at a nearby thrift store. The color and design alone made it impossible to leave there.

Jesse Crawford was one of the great silent picture accompanists. During the late 1920’s and early 1930’s he could be found at New York’s Paramount Theater improvising with his wife Helen, also an organist. With the advent of talking pictures, Crawford provided “organ interludes” and eventually took to booking himself all across the country, sticking to movie houses for his performances. Some of these interludes were incredibly ambitious: “In (two) cases, he and his wife played on two four-manual consoles on the stage with the assistance of the entire resources of the theatre, complete ballet, large chorus, solo dancers, principal singers and the huge permanent orchestra…(For) Rubinstein's Kamenai Ostrov, he was provided with a specially painted drop-scene… depicting the mysterious island in the river with the monastery in the distance, and was assisted by a male-voice choir of twenty dressed as monks.” That, my friends, was entertainment.