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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinema Yak   » Tom Hazelton, Theatre Organist Has Died

   
Author Topic: Tom Hazelton, Theatre Organist Has Died
Bill Enos
New Member

Posts: 2
From: Richmond, VA
Registered: Mar 2006


 - posted March 14, 2006 04:08 PM      Profile for Bill Enos   Email Bill Enos         Edit/Delete Post 
According to Jordan Kitts company e-mail Hazelton died last night at home apparently of a heart attack. Our house organist Bob Gulledge who works for J.K. said this came this afternoon around 4:00 EST. Jordan Kitts is a distributor for Allen Organs for whom Hazelton was an organist and I believe advisor.

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Jack Doyle
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Posts: 6
From: Merritt Island, FL
Registered: Nov 2004


 - posted April 17, 2006 01:15 PM      Profile for Jack Doyle   Email Jack Doyle         Edit/Delete Post 
Much like Mark Twain, reports of Tom Hazleton's death seem to be "greatly exagerated"! He is not only very much alive, but will be one of the featured organists at the ATOS Annual Convention being held May 23-30 and hosted by the Central Florida Chapter. Mr. Hazleton will hold forth at the Style 260 3/15 Wurlitzer in the Gusman Performing Arts Center (nee Olympia Theatre) in Miami on the evening of May 30th, thus closing the convention.I am very surprised no one else caught this monumental gaffe. One can only hope it hasn't caused Mr. Hazleton any problems.

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Bill Enos
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Posts: 2
From: Richmond, VA
Registered: Mar 2006


 - posted June 05, 2006 06:09 PM      Profile for Bill Enos   Email Bill Enos         Edit/Delete Post 
I don't believe Tom made it to the event mentioned in Mr. Doyles
post.

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David Wodeyla
Member

Posts: 65
From: Natick, MA
Registered: Jun 2004


 - posted June 07, 2006 03:29 AM      Profile for David Wodeyla   Author's Homepage   Email David Wodeyla         Edit/Delete Post 
Bill Enos had the correct information. According to the South Florida Theatre Organist Society, Mr Hazelton passed away on March 13.

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Steven Rood
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Posts: 25
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Dec 2004


 - posted June 10, 2006 06:53 AM      Profile for Steven Rood   Email Steven Rood         Edit/Delete Post 
With the utmost respect to Tom, if he did show up, that WOULD be monumental.

s

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Jack Doyle
New Member

Posts: 6
From: Merritt Island, FL
Registered: Nov 2004


 - posted June 20, 2006 04:07 PM      Profile for Jack Doyle   Email Jack Doyle         Edit/Delete Post 
My apologies to Mr.Enos for doubting his veracity and acting like a know-it-all as to his reportage of Tom Hazelton's death. I got my information (or lack of it) from the May/June issue of Theatre Organ Journal where there wa no mention of it. I also was out of touch with my chapter (Orlando) due to an extended illness where I am sure this would have been discussed. again, my apologies

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George Gates
Member

Posts: 55
From: Providence, RI
Registered: May 2005


 - posted June 22, 2006 12:28 PM      Profile for George Gates           Edit/Delete Post 
The next question might be whether one can obtain recordings of his, and a general curiosity about silent film soundtracks: did the organist choose whatever music they felt appropriate, or was a book of music sent to the theatres with the film?

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Jim Rankin
(Jim passed away in December 2006)
Posts: 123
From: Milwaukee, WI
Registered: Oct 2003


 - posted June 23, 2006 10:39 AM      Profile for Jim Rankin   Email Jim Rankin         Edit/Delete Post 
Silent films started out actually silent as 15 minute or less novelities in the pre-nickelodeon days at the turn of the 19th century. Within ten years they became multi-reel stories where a piano was played -- either in person or as a player piano in a nickelodeon. Within another decade the features were even longer with the aspect of novels on screen that required the greater range of the pipe organ to reflect the subtle emotions of the first epics such as "Birth of a Nation" and "Intolerance." As 1920 approached, so did the Movie Palaces and their first Theatre pipe organs and names such as Wurlitzer were well underway with organs, and Hollywood now often sent along entire scores for the orchestras and organs to play in their own theatres.

Since the studios then owned the theatres as well as the films, it was in their interests to provide music for at least their major, or 'A' movies. There were still thousands of other flicks which had no scores, so a skilled organist had to know dozens of suitable melodies and how to improvise sound effects on the organ to match the actions on the screen (after about 1920, virtually all "Theatre Organs" had a greater or lesser array of sound effects such as door bells, car horns and singing birdies).

The best organists were different from the former piano player guys of years before, and some luminaries arose, such as Jessie Crawford, billed as "The Poet of the Organ" and he progressed to ever larger cities' theatres and an ever bigger salary! There were even books of melodies and instructions for special effects which organists practiced when the theatres were closed.

So, sometimes they got a score, but many times they had to improvise -- often times on the fly during first view of the film! By such was their mettle tested and fabulous salaries earned. With the coming of sound movies in 1929, all this ended.

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William Hooper
Member

Posts: 82
From: Mobile, AL
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted June 25, 2006 11:51 PM      Profile for William Hooper   Email William Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
a general curiosity about silent film soundtracks: did the organist choose whatever music they felt appropriate, or was a book of music sent to the theatres with the film?
There is a good overview of theatre music during the silent period written by Rodney Sauer of the Mont Alto Orchestra at
http://www.mont-alto.com/photoplaymusic/aboutmusic.html

The question is not simple because accompaniment varied with the year, subject, theatre, practices of the theatre, etc.
Briefly, not many pre-talkie films had scores which were "official" that accompanied the film - some did, & some had more than one. Typically the organist, pianist, or conductor of the orchestra either composed new scores from new compositions of their own, stock pieces, from commercially sold "photoplay music", etc. The scores were of course written down for the orchestras, but organists (& pianists) could work from a more shorthand outline approach.

Most features were accompanied by "cue sheets" indicating selections of stock orchestral works recommended to go with the film. These could be used when working fast, or as general indicators of the type of music to be used at different points, with the organ/orchestra substituting other works if desired, either of their own selection from their own composition, stock works, or photoplay music.

There is an example of a cue sheet at
http://www.mont-alto.com/photoplaymusic/cuesheet.html

They are brief, & cue sheets for major releases were published in industry magazines such as Moving Picture World, etc. as they only took up a page if abbreviated to just several points in the film.

Sources of photoplay music (new music written for film accompaniment situations & marketed to the industry) were services like Sam Fox & entire published books like Erno Rapee's _Motion Picture Moods_.

The sheer volume of films (two or more program changes per week) made it impossible to expect improvisation alone to supply acceptable scores, which is why theatres bragged in trade magazines of the size of their music library, which was essential to work from to create scores.

A few big features did have scores: Saint Saens composed one, Birth of A Nation & Phantom of the Opera each had more than one complete published score, Fairbanks & Pickford pictures usually had them, etc. It was not expected or required that a theatre use them, though, & they did cost extra to buy rather than having your theatre's conductor do what he was being paid for anyway & putting together a score for the picture on his own if he had recourse to that score but preferred to compose his own.

For an organist or pianist alone, working in a theatre that did not also have an orchestra, a good example is the way Rosa Rio still prepares her scores: reviewing the film, composing several themes & variations on them for different parts of the film, writing them up with notes on the music indicating points in the film not unlike cue sheets.

The bottom of the barrel experience would be a theatre like the ones Harpo Marx worked at: as a child, his lookalike piano prodigy brother Chico would get a job as a piano accompanist in a small theatre, then go to find another job & send Harpo to accompany the films. Harpo could only play one song on the piano, "Waltz Me Around Again, Willie", which he would play slowly in love scenes, fast in chase scenes, etc. until he got fired & Chico got him a job in another theatre.

Although you can hear in early talkies a good example of how theatre film accompaniment was composed in pre-talkie days, faster & more focused examples can be heard in Warner Brothers cartoons & MGM Tom & Jerry Cartoons. Carl Stalling & Scott Bradley were excellent & successful silent-era theatre orchestra conductors & accompanists (Stalling a theatre organist, Bradley a pianist) both in film & live theaters. The cues in cartoons are shorter, change more frequently, more of burlesque character, etc. than for a feature, but you can sort of see how it works.

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Bill Spalding
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Posts: 1
From: Charleston, WV
Registered: Aug 2006


 - posted August 27, 2006 12:19 PM      Profile for Bill Spalding   Email Bill Spalding         Edit/Delete Post 
Re: Tom Hazelton's demise: I checked the Social Security Death Records, and there IS a Thomas W. Hazelton died 24 Nov 2005. He is listed a living in Santa Monica (Los Angeles) CA. Born 27 May 1927.
[Shrug] I don't know if this answers and question or not.

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