Theatre Organ Studies, The Distant Land, The Bohemian Girl, and The Titanic

As promised for September, I am pleased to present a transcription of the once-popular “Bohemian Girl” by Michael Balfe. I am also happy to bring back the entry from Schirmer’s Scholastic Series on theatre organ technique. I hope you’ll visit the music pages below to learn more.


1. PREPARATORY STUDIES FOR MOTION-PICTURE ORGANISTS, by Walter G Reynolds. From 1928 and long forgotten, this book will give you the techniques to begin playing film accompaniments. If you are a theatre organist now, I guarantee these studies will improve your abilities and your confidence. Reynolds writes: “This volume of Theatre Organ Studies departs more or less radically from existing organ instruction books intended primarily for the training of church organists.”

2. DAS FERNE LAND, by Adolf von Henselt, arranged by W J D Leavitt. Henselt’s song for voice and piano, “The Distant Land,” contained such a lovely melody that the great Boston organist, Leavitt, played it in the Boston Music Hall, and then had it published. His simple arrangement from 1881 would also sound beautiful on a theatre organ.

3. OVERTURE TO BOHEMIAN GIRL, by Michael Balfe, arranged by James Watson. Here is the transcription that very few know about. It’s the Overture to Balfe’s greatest work, the one that contains “I Dreamt that I Dwelt in Marble Halls.” Well, the overture doesn’t contain this melody, so Watson simply appended it to the beginning of the Overture! If you’re still not convinced that you have heard Balfe’s music, see this excerpt from Laurel and Hardy’s “Bohemian Girl” (1936):

4. NEARER, MY GOD, TO THEE, by Sigfrid Karg-Elert. If you are interested in the sinking of the Titanic and the music tributes written afterwards, you must know Karg-Elert’s dramatic piece for organ. There are bad scans on the free music sites, but my restoration presents every page, full size, and includes a complete list of his organ music.

MONTHLY DISCOUNT BUNDLE. To get the four pieces mentioned above, I offer a special price so you can buy all of the pieces above with one click and save money in the deal. I welcome your support, and if you don’t want to play a particular piece in the group, consider giving it to a student or another organist.

Thank you for your interest in this music. Keep sending me your suggestions.


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