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Jonathan Lane

Organs On Screen (not The Screen!)

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For fear of starting a topic already covered here (I have done a rudimentary scan of past topics, but it could have slipped through), I would be interested to find out about films or tv programs which have had organs in them, either played, or silent, and perhaps details of who played them and where they are.

 

I will start the ball rolling with two excellent English films, one modern, one old:

 

Calendar Girls - 2003

A Canterbury Tale (Although supposed to be at Canterbury actually filmed in St. Albans, as Canterbury's organ had been dismantled) - 1944

 

Jonathan :unsure:

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What was that film from (probably) the late 70s starring Richard Burton that featured a wedding in Bristol Cathedral? Can't guarantee that the organ was either seen or heard, but it would be strange if it wasn't at a wedding. Only remember this one because I knew a woman at the time who got a pretty good fee for being an extra in the congregation.

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What was that film from (probably) the late 70s starring Richard Burton that featured a wedding in Bristol Cathedral? Can't guarantee that the organ was either seen or heard, but it would be strange if it wasn't at a wedding. Only remember this one because I knew a woman at the time who got a pretty good fee for being an extra in the congregation.

 

Not sure, I'll do some research. As you may have gathered, film is another interest of mine!

 

Jonathan

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What was that film from (probably) the late 70s starring Richard Burton that featured a wedding in Bristol Cathedral? Can't guarantee that the organ was either seen or heard, but it would be strange if it wasn't at a wedding. Only remember this one because I knew a woman at the time who got a pretty good fee for being an extra in the congregation.

 

It was The Midas Touch, with Richard Burton and Lee Remick. Bristol Cathedral was renamed 'Minster Catherdal' (same number of letters) and yes, the organ was used and it was Clifford Harker playing it. There were shots of him playing maniacally while the cathedral fell down around him! Great film!

 

Gary Cole

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Guest Lee Blick

Haven't we already had this topic not that long ago?

 

The film 'If' with Malcolm McDowell had an organist playing "The Day of Resurrection" in a school chapel full of public school boys.

 

The Vicar of Dibley has organs being played by usually sterotypically weirdo or eccentric organists. I think those scenes themselves have done a lot to scare people away from learning the organ and has damaged the reputation of many serious players.

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The Vicar of Dibley has organs being played by usually sterotypically weirdo or eccentric organists. I think those scenes themselves have done a lot to scare people away from learning the organ and has damaged the reputation of many serious players.

 

I disagree, I've seen and met organists who look like that! Its a bit like saying the joggers off the 118 118 advert put people off running.

 

From the same stable, isn't there a bit in 4 Wedings and a Funeral from St Barts in London where there is a shot of the organ?

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Was there an organ in Summersile's (Christopher Lee) house in the original Wicker Man? I don't think it was played, but Christopher Lee's character did play the piano at one stage in the film.

 

Peter

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Thanks! Yes, that was the one. Googling tells me that the title was actually "The Medusa Touch", but I would never have traced it without your prompt.

 

Yes, sorry - turned everything to stone, not gold! It was late and a good few years since I saw the film!

 

At the start of 'Love Actually' there's a big wedding sequence which I think uses the Grosvenor Chapel organ.

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Was there an organ in Summersile's (Christopher Lee) house in the original Wicker Man? I don't think it was played, but Christopher Lee's character did play the piano at one stage in the film.

 

Peter

 

Haven't seen it for many years, but I'm pretty sure you're right.

 

A couple more unusual ones from the past:

 

Tawny Pipit (1944) - No sight of it, but it is played in 'All things bright and beautiful' at the end

 

The Bostonians (1984) - Very elaborate opening sequence - this is the subject that came up Lee, which really prompted this thread!

 

I'm thinking of starting a website to give information on the organ's appearance in film. So keep the suggestions coming.

 

Jonathan

 

 

 

Haven't we already had this topic not that long ago?

 

The film 'If' with Malcolm McDowell had an organist playing "The Day of Resurrection" in a school chapel full of public school boys.

 

The Vicar of Dibley has organs being played by usually sterotypically weirdo or eccentric organists. I think those scenes themselves have done a lot to scare people away from learning the organ and has damaged the reputation of many serious players.

 

I believe this was filmed in Cheltenham College Chapel, which was the old school of Director Lindsay Anderson. Some of the other scenes were filmed at Aldenham School.

 

Jonathan

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
The Bostonians (1984) - Very elaborate opening sequence - this is the subject that came up Lee, which really prompted this thread!

 

I'm thinking of starting a website to give information on the organ's appearance in film. So keep the suggestions coming.

 

Jonathan

 

As the Bostonians seem to get the odd spot here ( I described how it all came about somewhere else in this Forum, but under which thread, I have no idea. Have a hunt for it as it was such fun doing it.)

 

But I can give a link ORGANS IN FILMS to a most comprehensive list of organs in films if you want. Having had to contribute to it, I think that it is quite up to date. However, having just been to view this site, I read that the compiler of the paragraph on The Bostonians has run riot with fiction and not with fact. St Augustine's was and still is and excellent example of Harrison & Harrison's pneumatic action around the time of WW1. The only mechanical action is the swell pedal.

 

All the best,

Nigel

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The organ of Ripon Cathedral made a silent appearance in a mid-1990's episode of Emmerdale, when the Cathedral was used as the venue for Frank Tate's wedding.

 

G

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As the Bostonians seem to get the odd spot here ( I described how it all came about somewhere else in this Forum, but under which thread, I have no idea. Have a hunt for it as it was such fun doing it.)

 

But I can give a link ORGANS IN FILMS to a most comprehensive list of organs in films if you want. Having had to contribute to it, I think that it is quite up to date. However, having just been to view this site, I read that the compiler of the paragraph on The Bostonians has run riot with fiction and not with fact. St Augustine's was and still is and excellent example of Harrison & Harrison's pneumatic action around the time of WW1. The only mechanical action is the swell pedal.

 

All the best,

Nigel

 

Thanks Nigel. I wasn't aware of the site, but it looks interesting, if not that complete, I was thinking of a lot more information too. I hadn't identified the organ as St. Augustines, but now you mention it of course it is, having had the priviledge to play it a few years back. It is a great shame it was never completed! The church, which was of course heavily used in the 1970's and 80's by the BBC, and other recording companies, was also to appear in the film 'Young Sherlock Holmes' in 1985, although sadly the organ wasn't eaither used or seen.

 

Jonathan

 

The organ of Ripon Cathedral made a silent appearance in a mid-1990's episode of Emmerdale, when the Cathedral was used as the venue for Frank Tate's wedding.

 

G

 

And of course, Seth Armstrong used to play the church organ regulrly for special events.

 

Jonathan

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As the Bostonians seem to get the odd spot here ( I described how it all came about somewhere else in this Forum, but under which thread, I have no idea. Have a hunt for it as it was such fun doing it.)

 

For more on St. Augustines superb organ go here http://web16713.vs.netbenefit.co.uk/discus...p?showtopic=367

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Thanks Nigel. I wasn't aware of the site, but it looks interesting, if not that complete, I was thinking of a lot more information too. I hadn't identified the organ as St. Augustines, but now you mention it of course it is, having had the privilege to play it a few years back. It is a great shame it was never completed! The church, which was of course heavily used in the 1970's and 80's by the BBC, and other recording companies, was also to appear in the film 'Young Sherlock Holmes' in 1985, although sadly the organ wasn't either used or seen.

 

Jonathan

 

Jonathan

 

A pleasure! However, I am grateful that the organ wasn't completed. At least much that is there is Willis and not smoothed over by other builders in the 20th Century. It longs to be restored now. But another noted film that used the church (this time for St George's Windsor, no less), was Mrs Brown. Lovely seeing Dame Judy sitting Empress-like in the magnificence of the Choir.

I remember The Young S H being filmed. They made a terrible mess of the West Front with simulated snow for one scene that attacked the masonry in future years. There were many recordings with orchestra and choirs using the organ before it became too noisy and troublesome. The RPO were always there and with the BBC around the corner in Maida Vale, it was the venue for a number of Proms in the past.

 

Best wishes,

Nigel

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A pleasure! However, I am grateful that the organ wasn't completed. At least much that is there is Willis and not smoothed over by other builders in the 20th Century. It longs to be restored now. But another noted film that used the church (this time for St George's Windsor, no less), was Mrs Brown. Lovely seeing Dame Judy sitting Empress-like in the magnificence of the Choir.

I remember The Young S H being filmed. They made a terrible mess of the West Front with simulated snow for one scene that attacked the masonry in future years. There were many recordings with orchestra and choirs using the organ before it became too noisy and troublesome. The RPO were always there and with the BBC around the corner in Maida Vale, it was the venue for a number of Proms in the past.

 

Best wishes,

Nigel

 

I remember going to a late night prom in the 70's, and standing in the triforium, being totally scared by the building as a 11/12 year old! It is in my view the finest Victorian church in England, and has one of the finest Victorian organs too, a sympathetic rebuild, adding rescued Willis pipework to fill out the missing spec would be good though.

 

J

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It was made in 1978. I remember Clifford Harker used to refer to it as 'that dreadful film' but was amused that he received a fee of £90 for his small part in it. According to his biography, Music Maker (Margaret Hilton), the Dean and Chapter despite being paid by the film company were not best pleased that cassocks which had been loaned were returned in a poor state.

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Tawny Pipit (1944) - No sight of it, but it is played in 'All things bright and beautiful' at the end

 

More on this, as being my day off I have just watched the film! The organ is a reed organ, one manual, and appears earlier in the film too when the village schoolmistress plays a piece she has composed on it. This film for those who don't know it is a wonderful snapshot of English Village life in the 1940's.

 

Jonathan

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But I can give a link ORGANS IN FILMS to a most comprehensive list of organs in films if you want. Having had to contribute to it, I think that it is quite up to date. However, having just been to view this site, I read that the compiler of the paragraph on The Bostonians has run riot with fiction and not with fact. St Augustine's was and still is and excellent example of Harrison & Harrison's pneumatic action around the time of WW1. The only mechanical action is the swell pedal.
I see it also says that the organ in The Medusa Touch is York Minster. Hmm. :(

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Guest Lee Blick
I disagree, I've seen and met organists who look like that! Its a bit like saying the joggers off the 118 118 advert put people off running.

 

From the same stable, isn't there a bit in 4 Wedings and a Funeral from St Barts in London where there is a shot of the organ?

 

I was being sarcastic. The Vicar of Dibley rules and I am glad there are eccentric organists.

 

It would be nice to see an organist featured in a soap. Surely there must be organists who do live ordinary lives within their communities engaging in naughty liasons. The principal character in a detective series could be an organist, mulling things over in his (or her) head whilst treating us to the delights of Messiaen or Mathias.

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I was being sarcastic. The Vicar of Dibley rules and I am glad there are eccentric organists.

 

It would be nice to see an organist featured in a soap. Surely there must be organists who do live ordinary lives within their communities engaging in naughty liasons. The principal character in a detective series could be an organist, mulling things over in his (or her) head whilst treating us to the delights of Messiaen or Mathias.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong. Wasn't Mrs Mangel an organist back in around 1988/1988 on neighbours? Now I've embarrassed myself I'll run away and hide :(

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Surely there must be organists who do live ordinary lives ... engaging in naughty liasons.

...treating us to the delights of Messiaen or Mathias.

 

What kind of community is ordinary where organists engage in naughty liasons...?

 

I'm afraid I wouldn't trust the results of the investigation if they were treating us to Mess or Math. Bach, yes (what's that PC stuff about Baroque music being good for the brain?)

 

Not strictly a film, but I do remember an episode of Scooby Doo where they thought there was a ghost playing an organ in a spooky old house, but it turned out to be organist playing organ in neighbouring church that was connected by an underground passage. It didn't win any Oscars.

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Herr Gedeckt's, I would guess... :(

 

Actually, that has reminded me about that Trollope mini series, The Choir. I remember most of it was filmed at the cathedral that will sell itself for anything, and although there were quite a few choir practice shots, there were a couple of scenes in the cathedral itself with singing and organ.

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A Canterbury Tale (Although supposed to be at Canterbury actually filmed in St. Albans, as Canterbury's organ had been dismantled) - 1944

 

I remember seeing this...I think they used the sound of St Albans organ, but the pics are of Canterbury...including those of the organ console when it was in its loft over the choir stalls pre 1948.

 

There was a tv drama tv (perhaps BBC1)in the 70's or 80's which featured an organist. I can't remember much other than it seemed to have some doomsday senario. The organist in question would not play the Bach T and F in D minor because it had some special qualities. When he did in a recital, the place started to collapse. I don't recall the entire plot, but remember a mobile console? possibly for the final scenes. I do hope someone else remembers it as I must have been about 10 at the time!

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