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Organs On Screen (not The Screen!)


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You can't dress up as a nun and go to a sing-along "Godfather" can you?

Well, you might.. :rolleyes:

Anyway, I seem to remember from the last time that I watched all three 'Godfather' films back-to-back, that the wearer of Catholic garb (or a police uniform) was far more likely to be a Mafia assassin than the genuine article.

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Well, you might.. :rolleyes:

Anyway, I seem to remember from the last time that I watched all three 'Godfather' films back-to-back, that the wearer of Catholic garb (or a police uniform) was far more likely to be a Mafia assassin than the genuine article.

 

 

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Ah! You met our late Monsigneur, I see.

 

Now for sheer showmanship, the following clip from the utterly awful film "A desirable lady," is quite something. Organists should do more of this sort of thing when it comes to pedal solos.

 

I think the organist is the late Ethel Smith (of 'Tico Tico' fame) playing Hammond organ.

 

 

MM

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I would imagine that it is possible to acquire substances which, if ingested shortly before playing or listening, will produce a similar effect...

 

MM, I'm sure that at at some point during your many years' performing in grim northern towns, someone has said to you something along the lines of,

 

'By 'eck, tha' can make th'organ talk'.

 

Maybe they were not speaking figuratively... B)

 

Incidentally, what is it with Disney and the organ?

 

==========================

 

 

Now herein lies a funny story from my past: the Netherlands 1979 to be precise.

 

I had gone to a dubious disco in Amsterdam, and the next day I was to be taken to various famous organs by my kind host.

 

Now how was I to know that the invitation to "have a smoke" was anything other than an friendly, innocent gesture on the part of the person taking out a "cigarette?"

 

I felt sure that the white-beer was much stronger than I recalled it previously, as the room gently swayed.

 

A further "cigarette" and the room was really getting into the groove of the music, and I was hanging onto tables, chairs, people.....anything I could find really.

 

Quite how I got back to the hotel I am not sure, (unless it wasn't mine), but in any event, I was still wrecked the next morning, but somehow managed to stagger around the back of the Rjkesmuseum to meet mine host, whereupon we walked to the Amsterdam Central Station......he at 30mph (6ft 6in tall) amd me at a gallop; stumbling along as best I could.

 

Feeling marginally better, we made it to Rotterdam Cathedral and climbed up to the organ gallery. After playing through a Bach P & F, (I think it was the B-minor), I waited for the reverberation to die away.

 

"Vat was veery gut....slow and majestic," my host commented, "but do all Englander organists haf zer music upside ways?"

 

I was vaguely aware of him turning the pages the wrong way, but it didn't matter; I still couldn't focus properly. :rolleyes:

 

MM

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It would be even more astonishing if it WERE the late Ethil Smith.....she was a white lady!

 

I have no idea who the black lady organist is, but I expect someone will tell me.

 

MM

 

 

 

 

 

In today's Daily Mail there is an answer to correspondents feature, and one of the questions asked is "Are there any femail jazz organists ?

The reply states "The first great female jazz organist of note was Pittsburgh-born Ethel Smith(1902-1996). A gifted pianist she had no role model for playing the Hammond Organ, so she could only adapt her piano technique.

Due to failing health she retired in the 1960's and a leading critic pronounced that her technical ability on the keyboard for jazz was as great as it is for Bach.She appeared with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

Two worthy UK contenders mentioned are Jean Martyn and Carol Williams.

In the same answer Hazel Scott is mentioned but irrelevant to the story of Ethel Smith.

Colin Richell.

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In today's Daily Mail there is an answer to correspondents feature, and one of the questions asked is "Are there any femail jazz organists ?

The reply states "The first great female jazz organist of note was Pittsburgh-born Ethel Smith(1902-1996). A gifted pianist she had no role model for playing the Hammond Organ, so she could only adapt her piano technique.

Due to failing health she retired in the 1960's and a leading critic pronounced that her technical ability on the keyboard for jazz was as great as it is for Bach.She appeared with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

Two worthy UK contenders mentioned are Jean Martyn and Carol Williams.

In the same answer Hazel Scott is mentioned but irrelevant to the story of Ethel Smith.

Colin Richell.

 

========================

 

 

 

I'm sure we will all sleep better in our beds knowing that the black, lady organist playing Hammond organ in the film "A desirable lady," (1944 B & W) was Selinka Pettiford.

 

MM

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  • 2 weeks later...

  • The organ at St Savior In The Marshes finally got a showing last week, although it would appear to have been to a soundtrack of assorted noises. The organ was apparently in need of repair and the vicar was draming about how heavenly the music in his church could be.
  • For those unfamiliar with St Saviours, it is the setting for the BBC Two series Rev. In reality it is filmed at St Leonard's, Shoreditch. See http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=R00632 for specs. It seems that the reality matches the TV series!

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  • 1 month later...

Yesterday's episode of 'Escape to the Country' (I quickly hasten to add that it is my wife who likes to watch this, not myself!) was set in the area around Wells and featured the presenter meeting Matthew Owens, getting a quick demo of the Cathedral organ from the console, then receiving an impromptu lesson on how to play the opening of Toccata in D minor!!!

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  • 4 weeks later...

This clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWcTozKPJ6A is from a mammoth but very strange episode of BBCs Play For Today from 1981 called Artemis 81, which lasted 3 hours. It has already been discussed before in this topic. Can anyone tell where the console is from? It hasn't been in used for many years but a friend of mine recoginsed it. I'll give the answer in a few days. The professor in the clip gives an interesting interpretation of part of the Brahms A minor Fugue being played.

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Interesting clip indeed - what's an enormous five manual console doing in a tiny parish church, especially when the organ on the rear gallery 14 seconds into the clip looks like a small one or two manual instrument? And since the demonstration during the first minute of different stops is on the Great, why are the stops being drawn from the left jamb, since pretty universally in the UK the Great division is on the right? Does that give a clue to the organ? Or was the swell to great coupler drawn?

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Former St. Paul's Cathedral (pre 1977).....?

 

Yes I recognised it straight away from old photos I have seen and theres no mistaking that music desk! It's quite bizarre really that this old console would be rigged up to some sort of digital gubbins (to my ear anyway) for this appearance. Surely a 3 or 4 manual Allen would have done just as well. Perhaps our host might know something about the use of the old Willis console and perhaps be able to tell us what happened to it?

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Following my question, yes I was told it was the old St. Paul's console so we all agree on that. I'd long thought that a bit of clever filming allowed the console shots to be done at a separate location from those in the body of the church. However I now realise that because this actual console wasn't in use when the programme was made then it was probably taken to the church (without putting an organ out of action) and reconstructed to allowed this whole section to be filmed together.

 

The odd notes played by the professor at the beginning are not real organ sounds, they're an electronic organ or synthesizer played separately so obviously any stops and keys could have been used on the console for miming purposes. The Brahms Fugue was played on a real organ but mimed to on the film. The church is at Charsfiled in Suffolk (where by coincidence there is an organ builder) and does indeed have a very small instrument on the gallery. The whole film was supposed to be very surreal so the idea of an apparantly huge console in a small parish church all helped this impression.

 

Someone involved in this film must have had some dialogue with a significant person in the organ world to end up using the St.Paul's console. Also, parts 12 and 13 are on Youtube and the Southwell MInster organ is played live. There are also shots of the inside of Liverpool Cathedral including the bell chamber, but not the organ. I remember parts of the film when it was broadcast (and never repeated) so am pleased it's been released on DVD.

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The Brahms Fugue was played on a real organ but mimed to on the film.

I'd be interested to know who, precisely, was Gwen's double in the playing of the Brahms Fugue in A flat minor. I learned it decades ago for a diploma, and it's not a piece an actress can accurately mime. The double was clearly playing the right notes - and in the right order.

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Ah the wonderful memories of 1980s BBC television!

 

Those of us who were mere infants in those days might recall the children's series "Silas", a period drama based in the nineteenth century about a young boy who ran away from a circus. It was most famous for having originally been a German production, dubbed into English, and the English lines had a tendency to arrive at any time other than the moment the original words were mouthed.

 

At exactly 41 minutes into the final episode the eponymous hero, exploring the inside of a church, stumbles across the console of the very fine three manual organ on the rear gallery and tries to play it. Of course, there is no sound until a friendly priest appears and offers to show how he can make it work by drawing some stops and then he disappears off into the corner to furiously pump away on the bellows leaving Silas to play random notes on the organ. A dream come true you might think for the young lad.

 

Given the patchy success of the dubbing elsewhere, it's no surprise that the notes that come out of the organ are neither the same notes as those he is shown depressing on screen, nor are they even sounding at the same time as he is pressing them - indeed they sound distinctly like something a 1980s synthesiser might produce! And to this day I've never worked out how a circus boy manages, after a few random notes, to begin playing something approaching a melodic tune with chords.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4HG3R2bMPQ&feature=plcp&context=C38a95a7UDOEgsToPDskK4Pz8fou3oouLRXkbKTrXi

 

Most importantly though, does anyone recognise the organ?

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Ah the wonderful memories of 1980s BBC television!

 

Those of us who were mere infants in those days might recall the children's series "Silas", a period drama based in the nineteenth century about a young boy who ran away from a circus. It was most famous for having originally been a German production, dubbed into English, and the English lines had a tendency to arrive at any time other than the moment the original words were mouthed.

 

At exactly 41 minutes into the final episode the eponymous hero, exploring the inside of a church, stumbles across the console of the very fine three manual organ on the rear gallery and tries to play it. Of course, there is no sound until a friendly priest appears and offers to show how he can make it work by drawing some stops and then he disappears off into the corner to furiously pump away on the bellows leaving Silas to play random notes on the organ. A dream come true you might think for the young lad.

 

Given the patchy success of the dubbing elsewhere, it's no surprise that the notes that come out of the organ are neither the same notes as those he is shown depressing on screen, nor are they even sounding at the same time as he is pressing them - indeed they sound distinctly like something a 1980s synthesiser might produce! And to this day I've never worked out how a circus boy manages, after a few random notes, to begin playing something approaching a melodic tune with chords.

 

Most importantly though, does anyone recognise the organ?

 

===========================

 

 

Because his name is Patrick Bach, of course. B)

 

MM

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Ah the wonderful memories of 1980s BBC television!

 

Those of us who were mere infants in those days might recall the children's series "Silas", a period drama based in the nineteenth century about a young boy who ran away from a circus. It was most famous for having originally been a German production, dubbed into English, and the English lines had a tendency to arrive at any time other than the moment the original words were mouthed.

 

Most importantly though, does anyone recognise the organ?

 

Judging by the harbour scenes, the Catholic atmosphere of the church interior, not to mention the look of the organ case, I'm prepared to bet the film was shot in France - maybe somewhere like Honfleur? At first I thought it might be Stade, but all those shutters and mansard roofs are distinctly non-Germanic.

 

JS

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The current number of 'The American Organist' contains an interesting interview by Jonathan Ambrosino with Thomas Pavlechko, of St. Martin's Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas, who was enlisted to coach Brad Pitt for organist scenes in Terence Malick's film 'The Tree of Life'. Thomas also served as Brad's 'hand double' in certain shots, but in others Brad had to appear fluent as an organist, including shots using the pedals. Apparently, he displayed a startling ability to memorise things once seen - such as reproducing a stop build-up exactly after seeing it done once.

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  • 3 months later...

Fiona Bruce's program about Buckingham Palace http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b014s302/The_Queens_Palaces_Buckingham_Palace/ features (47'20")

  • the Ballroom organ,
  • an interview with Andrew Gant and footage of him playing it
  • a duet - the two of them singing How Lovely Are the Messengers
  • (Lots of pictures of Fiona Bruce :wub: )

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