In yesterday's MMDigest 980819 Ed Berlin said:
> Did silent films usually specify the music that was to be played?
> I thought that was up to the pianist or organist, but I admit
> not being an expert in silent film music.
Although fairly random music was played in the earliest days of the
motion picture, by the dawn of the feature film (circa 1910-12) the
major studios regularly distributed music scores for feature-length
The early ground-breaking Italian feature "Cabiria" featured a full
score, complied mainly of classical excepts, including Verdi. The
laser disk release of this film includes the original score, unfortun-
ately just played on piano rather than the full orchestra that it would
have originally had.
D. W. Griffith's 1915 masterpiece, "Birth of a Nation", likewise had a
'compiled' score. By the 1920's, the composer/compiler was sometimes
even listed in the opening credits. Many films did have original
scores written specifically for them; I seem to recall that a composer
named "Gottschalk" (perhaps a son of L. M.?) did some of these!
Now, whether the individual theatres showing these films followed the
scores is another matter entirely. I would guess that the larger
theatres, which had orchestras for the main evening shows, and organ
accompaniment for matinees, followed the scores closely. Depending
upon the abilities of the house musician, the smaller houses may have
just used the theme books such as the one Ed mentioned, or relied on
whatever theme rolls their photoplayer could provide.