As far as theatre organs go, Wurlitzer was the most prominent name, though many other builders such as Kimball (who did the first rebuilding and expansion of the Mormon Tabernacle Organ) and even the late, lamented M.P. Möller made theatre organs. Other famous names in the theatre organ world were Robert-Morton of Los Angeles, Compton of England, and quite a few others.
Back in late 19th and early 20th centuries, American cities often had huge organs built in concert halls. An organist would be hired to perform regular concerts. Since opera was a very expensive thing, then as now, organist would often perform transcriptions of operatic and symphonic works. One of the most famous of these civic organists, Edwin Lemare, started out as a church organist in the Church of England. He came to America and thrived as a civic organist and as a recitalist. Some organists have revived this tradition of making transcriptions. There is now a greater respect for symphonic organs, such as those built by E.M. Skinner, and even for theatre organs.
One of these transcribers, Jelani Eddington, is a talented organist known for his work with theatre organs. According to his website, he’s also a lawyer. I’m not sure that he practices law now, as he seems to have a pretty active career. You can read more at www.rjeproductions.com. Here, he plays his transcription of the William Tell Overture at Grace Baptist Church in Sarasota, FL. The church is a proud possessor of a 1927 Wurlitzer theatre organ. The transcription is in two parts.
I’ve written before about the massive theatre organ at the Sanfilippo Estate in Barrington Hills, IL. Jasper Sanfilippo made his fortune in peanuts. His company owns the Fisher brand of nuts. So while this organ was paid for by peanuts, it certainly did not cost peanuts to build. The bulk of the instrument is a Wurlitzer, but there are pipes from quite few other well-known organ builders. This third video features a Leroy Anderson piece played by Mr Eddington on the organ of the Sanfilippo Estate. Anderson is famous for “Sleigh Ride” among other works. There is some thrilling video of the interior of the instrument. You get to see the tremulants at work. The tremulants provide the vibrato sounds of the organ.