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Thread: Pipe organs in the movies! (updated)

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    Administrator Frederik Magle's Avatar
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    Pipe organs in the movies! (updated)

    Because of my special interest in the instrument I tend to notice the sound of pipe organ whenever I hear it, and it seems to be used quite frequently in movie scores. So I set out to find out just how much, and where. Movie soundtracks are especially interesting because they reach a very wide and - in the case of pipe organs - much larger audience than possible in a concert hall/church or through CDs with classical organ music. Here is a list I have compiled. Of course it's far from complete, so please help the list grow. Thanks in advance!

    LIST OF FILM SCORES/SOUNDTRACKS WITH PIPE ORGAN

    (E) = electronic replica of a pipe organ (e.g. synthesizer with "pipe organ" sound, digital "church" organ etc.)
    (e?) = real pipe organ or digital copy? cannot be determined 100% based on recorded material (but sounds real to the trained ear)
    (?) = real pipe organ or digital copy? status unknown - I haven't heard the soundtrack myself.
    * = the organ playes an important part throughout the score
    *** = the organ playes an extraordinary important solistic part throughout the score


    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    Main theme: Introduction from "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (Richard Strauss) - pipe organ and orchestra

    Batman (1989)
    throughout the score (Danny Elfman): pipe organ (E) and orchestra

    Batman Returns (1992)
    throughout the score (Danny Elfman): pipe organ (E) and orchestra

    Beauty & The Beast - The Enchanted Christmas (1997)
    throughout the score [starring "Forte, the evil pipe organ"] (Michael Starobin): solo pipe organ (?)

    Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
    "Hail the Bomb" (Leonard Rosenman): pipe organ and choir

    Cowboy Bebop - TV Series Soundtrack (1998)
    "Rain" (Yôko Kanno): pipe organ (?) and vocal
    more info: http://www.ex.org/3.4/35-cd_cowboybebop.html

    Devil's Advocate (1997)
    church scene - Air on the g string (J.S.Bach): solo pipe organ (performed by Virgil Fox)

    Dracula 2000 (2000)
    troughout the score (Marco Beltrami): pipe organ (?) and orchestra

    Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995)
    El Choclo (Hummie Mann): solo pipe organ (?)

    El Cid (1962)
    Final Battle Scene (Miklos Rosza): solo pipe organ / pipe organ and orchestra

    Fall of the Roman Empire, The (1964)
    *throughout the score (Dimitri Tiomkin): solo pipe organ / pipe organ and orchestra

    Godfather, The (1972)
    Baptism scene (Nino Rota): solo pipe organ

    House on the Haunted Hill (1999)
    throughout the score (Don Davis): solo pipe organ (E [pipe organ sample]) / pipe organ (E) and orchestra
    more info: http://www.soundtrackmag.com/ddavis.html

    Interview with the Vampire (1994)
    "Théatre des Vampires" (Elliot Goldenthal): solo pipe organ (e?) / pipe organ and orchestra

    King Kong (1976)
    throughout the score (John Barry): pipe organ (e?) and orchestra

    Koyaanisqatsi (1983)
    ***throughout the score (Philip Glass): solo pipe organ / vocals, pipe organ and orchestra

    Little Mermaid, The (1997)
    Song: Poor Unfortunate Souls (Alan Menken) - vocal, pipe organ (E) and orchestra

    Mission To Mars (2000)
    Towards The Unknown (Ennio Morricone) - pipe organ (E) and orchestra

    Omega Man, The (1971)
    Unknown (Ron Grainer): pipe organ (?) and orchestra

    Patton (1970)
    *throughout the score (Jerry Goldsmith): pipe organ solo / pipe organ and orchestra

    Regeneration (1997)
    Unknown (Mychael Danna): solo pipe organ (performed by Mychael Danna in Bratislava Radio Hall)

    Sister Mary explains it all (2001)
    "Praise my soul" (Philippe Sarde): pipe organ (?), choir and orchestra

    Sleepy Hollow (1999)
    throughout the score (Danny Elfman): pipe organ (?), choir and orchestra

    Sphere (1998)
    Manifest^3 (Elliot Goldenthal): pipe organ (e?) and orchestra

    Tron (1982)
    *Endning Titles + throughout the score (Wendy Carlos): solo pipe organ / organ and orchestra (performed by Martin Neery on the organ in Royal Albert Hall, London)

    Vertigo (1958)
    Meeting in the Redwood forest (Bernard Herrmann): pipe organ and orchestra

    ---

    (Please post additions to this list)


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    Re: Pipe organs in the movies! (updated)

    Frederik.....After Christmas, in The New Year...I will add to Your List....Have Found a Lot More Examples....Should "Boost" up the List......Many New examples I have Found are from the 40's & 50's...Probably,because of The "Wurlitzer" Tradition in Theatres...BUT...Many of Todays Films,with The "Speilberg" Influence have "Snippets" of Pipe Organ....
    Cheers. Pamadu/Paul

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    Administrator Frederik Magle's Avatar
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    Re: Pipe organs in the movies! (updated)

    That's great Paul! Looking forward to your additions.

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    Midshipman, Forte
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frederik Magle
    Because of my special interest in the instrument I tend to notice the sound of pipe organ whenever I hear it, and it seems to be used quite frequently in movie scores.
    I cannot really contribute to the list, but there is a very remarkable old horror film that is related to the organ more than perhaps any other. It is the "Carnival of souls" (1962), in public domain now. So you can download it. Warning for Mac users: avoid using Safari to visit that page; for some reason it crashes badly.

    I have read that the film was made on a really minimal budget ($15,000 or so) and very quickly (less than one month). For example, the organist's playing is completely off synchronization with the music. Anyway, the horror level attained, and without explicit violence from what I remember, is beyond imagination for such a cheaply produced movie. Highly recommended for organ friends. But don't blame me if after having watch it you are scared to look again at the mirror or play the organ.
    Last edited by pb05; Jul-21-2006 at 12:11. Reason: added emoticon

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Re: Pipe organs in the movies! (updated)

    The Runner Stumbles (1979)
    Periodically throughout the film (E) Organ (Allen)
    Ernest Gold wrote the music score. I was the Allen Technician who set up the Allen Digital (3 manual) organ on the sound stage

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    Commodore de Cavaille-Coll
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    Hi Mr. Magle,

    You should also have mentioned *20,000 Leagues under the Sea* by Jules Verne in a film made by Disney. The Submarine captain in the film plays Bach's Toccata in D-minor.

    Cheers,

    Giovanni

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    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    I can't for the life of me remember the name of the film but I remember Ennio Morricone did the score and I think Gregory Peck was starring in it. The score had a noticeable use of pipe organ. Peck was a Vatican priest I think. Ring any bells with anyone?

    Wendy Carlos used organ in the closing credits to Tron and I also think it was a real one (the organ that is).

    I know this is steering away from films, but there were a few Dr. Who episodes (Tom Baker era) with organ used in the incidental music:
    "The Ribos Operation"
    "Pyramids Of Mars" (treated with effects)
    "The Invasion Of Time"

    There may well have been others but I remember these because I grew up with them and was learning organ at the time.
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

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    Apprentice, Piano AeroScore's Avatar
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    The organ used in "TRON" was the Father Willis instrument in the Royal Albert Hall, London, no less!

    You would be surprised at the number of movies made from the 50's through the late 70's, whose composers made use of studio theatre pipe organs to augment the orchestras of the time. 20th Century Fox (3/17 Wurlitzer), Universal (3/13 or so Robert-Morton); you name it, they all used 'em. They were used to augment the orchestra's string and bass sections, and to provide that "classical" sound when the score called for it. I have personal knowledge of this: one of my best friends for 20 years was a studio organist named Johnny Seng (who passed away at the age of 63 just a couple of years ago), who did such work for many composers back then, among them John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, and Hans Zimmer. Of course, synths are used now, to better effect, at least in the recording engineer's minds. Much easier to control balances in the digital domain.

    During a late night, rather inebriated conversation, he played for me a video of "The Fury," starring Kirk Douglas, and pointed out to me all the places in the score where the 20th Century Fox scoring stage Wurlitzer (on which he performed for this score) "filled out" the orchestra, in particular one sequence where the organ's 16' metal Diaphone and 16' Pedal Violone doubled under the 'celli. It was quite a revalation.

    He even related a story about the first day of the recording session: Recording the first "cue" on the schedule, Mr. Williams stopped the performance after less than a few bars, wondering why he wasn't hearing the organ. My friend Johnny was playing the notes, but nobody had turned the blower on! Take Two, and the organ was quite apparently horridly out-of-tune, so much so, that John Williams called a halt to the session for that day! Technicians were called, who worked through the afternoon and into the night night to tune and regulate the organ (it hadn't been used in a while, + keep in mind, this was 1978), and recording proceeded the next day. "The Fury" score was recorded in 3 days.

    If you happen to own one of the rather rare OST's from this movie, you won't hear Johnny, the Wurlitzer, or indeed the scoring orchestra; the music for the album was recorded more than a year later by the London Symphony Orchestra for release by 20th Century Fox Records, and bears little resemblace to the score as heard in the movie. Same notes, different orchestra, and re-orchestrated for a larger orchestra, sans organ.

    Another episode occured in the late 80's, when Johnny performed (again on the 20th Wurlitzer) for Hans Zimmer, at the behest of Elmer Bernstein, as solo for a huge part of the movie "Younger And Younger" (about the owner of a "mini-storage" facility, who has a Wuritzer installed in one of the units) starring Donald Sutherland and Brendan Frasier (who has one of my all time favorite movie lines: "You killed my mother with your Wurlitzer!").

    It just goes to show ya, you never know where theatre pipe organs (or pipe organs in general), will show up in movies.

    Dean

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    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    That's a great story. Thanks for sharing!
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

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    Apprentice, Piano Pipequeen's Avatar
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    Smile The Pink Panther

    One of those Pink Panther movies (I forgot which) features Inspector Dreyfuss Playing the pipe organ. Afterwards, it is revieled that he isn't actually playing it.

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    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    I seem to vaguely recall a scene in The Eagle Has Landed where one of the soldiers was seen and heard playing an organ in a church (it wasn't Michael Caine though!)

    btw, did some searches on IMDb and that film I mentioned before with Gregory Peck was The Scarlet And The Black. Ennio Morricone did the score for it and I remember it had some notable organ parts.

    Also, have just remembered a piece that I've included in my recitals from time to time, by Shostakovich. It's a short but very nice passacaglia called 'Ispovyed' (that's phonetic by the way as I don't know how to conveniently insert the Cyrillic characters) which means 'Confession'. Although I've not seen the film, this piece apparently features in a church scene in The Gadfly. There is an orchestrated version of it on a CD pressing of some of Shotakovich's film music but I've not come across any recordings of the original organ version (apart from the recording of my recital! )

    Matt
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

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    Apprentice, Piano
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pipequeen View Post
    One of those Pink Panther movies (I forgot which) features Inspector Dreyfuss Playing the pipe organ. Afterwards, it is revieled that he isn't actually playing it.
    LOL... you beat me to it! Yes, it was in "The Pink Panther Strikes Again." When I first saw the movie, I recognized the piece he was playing at one point in the movie, so it really caught my attention. It was the ending to Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in G-minor, with the (rarely heard?) major chord ending!

    Heck, here you go... take a quick listen to it if you like – track #17:

    http://www.amazon.com/Pink-Panther-S.../dp/B00000DCWG

    And a bit of trivia, Herbert Lom (Inspector Dreyfuss) has portrayed four characters who played the organ: the Phantom of the Opera, René Marot (Murders in the Rue), Charles Dreyfus (The Pink Panther Strikes Again), and Captain Nemo (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea).

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    Apprentice, Piano
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krummhorn View Post
    I was the Allen Technician who set up the Allen Digital (3 manual) organ on the sound stage
    Three of our local church organs are Allens that we purchased through Westfield Piano and Organ in Grand Rapids. I've got nothing but great things to say about their organs, the company, the dealership, and the technician that's helped us out when needed over the years!

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Royboy View Post
    Three of our local church organs are Allens that we purchased through Westfield Piano and Organ in Grand Rapids. I've got nothing but great things to say about their organs, the company, the dealership, and the technician that's helped us out when needed over the years!
    That's really great to hear. My association with Allen's began in the 60's, installing, maintenance, and later in the early 70's, Institutional Sales for a [now defunct] dealer in So California. Grand Rapids ... 2 fair-sized Austin/Allen hybrids there
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    Apprentice, Piano
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krummhorn View Post
    Grand Rapids ... 2 fair-sized Austin/Allen hybrids there
    I assume you're talking about LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church:

    http://www.grago.org/organs/doc/lagrave_crc.htm

    And Fountain Street Church:

    http://www.grago.org/organs/doc/fountain_street.htm

    In fact, I heard Carlo play an inaugural concert (one of three, featuring different organists) at Fountain Street Church in 2003. Fantastic!!!

    And I also heard Carlo play at LaGrave in 1996 & 1997. Fantastic!!!

    First time I ever heard him, was way back in 1979 at Interlochen. LOL... he walked on the stage dressed in Interlochen camper attire (for SOME reason) and everyone just thought he was a stagehand or something! Can't believe it's been four years now already since I've heard him. (He had lost a LOT of weight too at that time and looked as good as ever!)

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