M and I went last night to see Nosferatu at the California Theater in San Jose. What an amazing place. The guy who played the organ had created the score for the film (at least the one he played that night) based on a small piece that had survived. I had never seen Nosferatu and the fact that it was accompanied by this grand grand organ (Wurlizter console) was amazing. The guy who played (Dennis James) is pretty much the top organist in the world (ok, so he said that - here's his bio) and has played all over the world and he says this venue is the best - the best organ and sound (I'm not sure they are able to be separated). He said it's a less frequent experience - he used to play at least 140 shows in a year, and now it's down to 32-ish. (a show is accompanying a silent film - most are 4-5 hours long while this was 1.5). Apparently Packard the billionaire likes such shows so he gets called in to play periodically.
When we went to get a closer look we started speaking with the older man - the one pointing. He is Edward Millicent Stout III, who restores old organs and I believe restored this one. Knows his stuff for sure, and loves it and loves to talk about it. The usher was supposed to get us all out of the theater but didn't have the heart to stop him speaking. He went into much detail about how they are made, how they are played (demonstrated the various sounds that can come out, including chimes, drums, etc, the deep bass that rumbles your stomach..), the history of that organ, the tear down of the Fox Theater in San Francisco (he spat out the name of the mayor who ordered it torn down) [apparently the Fox Theater had a 140 foot high ceiling while this one has a 40 ft one - so it was VERY grand ), etc..
Anyway, it was a great evening. But I've always loved organs anyway...
Edward Millicent Stout, III can be seen in this video: San Francisco Pipe Organ Encounter 2005