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|The Black Pirate starred
Douglas Fairbanks and had the distinction of being in Technicolor. Although
there were earlier Technicolor films, this picture, directed by Albert Parker,
was released in 1926 and was the first colour film to be widely distributed.
Please click on the image to view this document as a PDF.
(file size approx. 1.193MB)
| A quite extraordinarily
dismissive article from the Musical Mirror in which playing for films is described
in detail by 'one who knows' with a caveat in the final paragraph which amounts
to saying 'if you're any good as a pianist don't touch cinema playing with
(file size 919 KB)
|This is the only surviving
full score for a British silent fiction film in existence, and as such is
a treasure trove of information about both playing and synchronising the score
to the film. It is too big to explore in its entirety but have a look at the
available pages in the pdf and you will see marked descriptions of musical
passages (this is a piano-conductor score so doesn't contain all the orchestration)
and on-screen cues to keep the music synchronised. My excellent colleague
Philip Carli has restored this score and arranged some of the missing instruments
and it is hoped, one day, that the whole score will be heard complete for
the first time since 1930! You may also be interested in my article on the
score 'Distant trumpets - the score to "The Flag Lieutenant" and
music of the British silent cinema' in the collection 'Young and Innocent?
The Cinema in Britain 1896-1930'.
(file size approx 1.9 MB)
| Here is another fascinating
document, the programme from the Tivoli Cinema in the Strand (now, sadly,
vanished) for Rex Ingrams's hugely successful 'Garden of Allah' - check out
particularly the orchestral delights which form part of the evening's entertainment,
and the advert for an 'Orchestral Organ' - the organ was often a financially
efficient replacement for players in an orchestra and it is one of the ironies
of the coming of sound that the organ was the sole-surviving remnant of live
music in cinemas after sound came in.
(file size approx: 4.75 MB)
These are cue sheets for two other films for which prints survive, Hell's Heroes, a very late silent Western directed by Hollywood legend William Wyler (who would later direct Ben Hur, amongst many other classics), (file size 306 KB)...and a very successful British picture
The Hound of the Baskervilles, which needs no introduction. (file size 182 KB)
|Pages from the Bioscope written
by the arranger of the Flag Lieutenant, Albert Cazabon. Cazabon was one of
the most distinguished theatre and cinema musical directors of the 1920s and
here he addresses himself to the problems of the cinema conductor, particularly
the new electrical technology which allowed the conductor to control the speed
at which the film was shown and the problems of music that over-emphasises
dramatic emotion. So much for the old canard that all silent movie music was
(file size approx 2.2 MB)
|Letter of redundancy and letter of recommendation sent to pianist Alice Lord on losing her job when her Tunbridge Wells cinema went over to 'Talking Films'. (each file approx 200KB)
With thanks to Nick Hiley for supplying the images.
Letter of Redundancy.
|Letter of recommendation|
|Contemporary views of the silent movie musician - with thanks to Stephen Bottomore for permission to reprint them from his book 'I Want to See This Annie Mattygraph : A Cartoon History of the Coming of the Movies'.
(each file approx 300KB)
The Over Zealous Pianist
|Types of Pianists we have met|
|The Cinema Pianist|
|A very rare 1914 photograph of a cinema's full personnel, with the band across the centre - pianist with buttonhole, percussion next to him, extraordinarily dodgy wig on the bass player. With huge thanks to Dr Nicholas Hiley for access to another gem from his collection. file size approx 260kb)|