The Golden Age of the Organ in Manitoba: 1875-1919, Part 2

June 9, 2003
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Part 1 of this article was published in the May, 1997 issue
of The Diapason, pp. 18--21.

Westminster Presbyterian Church

Westminster Church had a reed organ until 1894, when it
acquired the discarded Warren pipe organ from Grace Church. Then, five years
later, D. W. Karn, Woodstock, Ontario, completed the installation of a
two-manual, 24-stop instrument; the opening recital on the handsome instrument
was anticipated as "one of the most interesting musical events of the
season,"28 and the organ was compared favorably with the one in Holy
Trinity Church.29

In 1912 the church replaced the organ with a four-manual,
49-stop Casavant organ at a cost of $10,500. This organ, which has undergone
several modifications since that date, is the grandest organ in Winnipeg in the
Romantic tonal tradition. For this reason it has served as the location for
many concerts and recitals by local players and world-renowned organ virtuosos
over the years.

St. Stephen's Presbyterian Church

When St. Stephen's Church was erected in 1903, it acquired a
new organ through a rather unusual sequence of events. In the same year the
Winnipeg College of Music opened, with a staff of fifteen teachers who offered
courses in piano, organ, voice, violin, harmony, and theory. The College had
ordered a two-manual $2,000 organ from an unidentified Toronto builder,
probably either Warren or Williams, for installation in their building. How St.
Stephen's acquired their organ was reported in a weekly newspaper:

When it came to making alterations in the new college
building it was found that it would be impossible to erect the organ there without inconvenience and a large expenditure of space--and the college business is growing so fast that space is a very valuable consideration. So, in this dilemma a convenient arrangement was made with the authorities of St. Stephen's church by which the organ will be placed in that church, used at the services and be available for college purposes during the week.30

The organ was only in use for about three years, when it was
replaced by a three-manual, 29-stop instrument, installed by Casavant
Frères in 1906 at a cost of $5,050.                     

Augustine Presbyterian Church

Organ installations received greater publicity when the
inaugural concerts were played by touring recitalists. For example, the
American organist Clarence Eddy, who had been the official organist at the
Paris Exposition in 1899 and who was reputed to have opened more organs than
any other living organist, played two recitals on the new three-manual, 28-stop
organ installed in Augustine Presbyterian Church by D. W. Karn, Woodstock,
Ontario, in 1905:

   Light
and color were transformed into waves of melody at Augustine church last
evening before a delighted audience of between seven and eight hundred music
lovers, assembled at the first of the two inaugural recitals on the new organ
by Mr. Clarence Eddy, a pastmaster on the great church instrument. The church
is as new as the organ so there were no grim ghosts of by-gone Covenanters to
protest against the introduction of a musical instrument in the kirk, but even
had there been they would have been soothed by the carnival of sound which the
magnificent instrument produced under the master touch of the world-wide famous
American organist.

   The
organ is set in an alcove on a level with the gallery and above the choir. It
was manufactured by the Karn Organ and Piano company, of Woodstock, Ontario, of
which Mr. Wright is the local manager. It is a splendid instrument, the largest
and best in western Canada, with over 2,000 speaking tubes; and, thanks to its
large open diapasons, it has a wide volume of sound which is unequalled by many
even larger instruments. Mr. Eddy himself is delighted with it. "It is
brilliant," he said, "and it was a pleasure to me to play on
it."31

The Augustine organ is the earliest instrument installed in
Winnipeg that still remains active, although it has undergone refitting and
renovation several times in the intervening years.

Other Installations

The arrivals of new organs in other large city
churches--Zion Methodist in 1905, Fort Rouge Methodist in 1906 and 1911, Young
Methodist in 1907, Wesley Methodist in 1908, St. Luke's Anglican in 1910, St.
Giles Presbyterian in 1913, and others--continued to receive attention in the
daily newspapers. With some exceptions, inaugural recitals by local players
were often ignored, perhaps because they were not stand-alone events, but were
part of dedication services involving religious rituals and church choirs. The
installation of a new organ also provided an opportunity for local organists to
inspect and play the instrument. Five city organists performed at a private
trial of the new three-manual Casavant organ at Broadway Methodist Church in
1907. Leading members of the congregation and several city clergymen were
present, along with J. C. Casavant, the head of the organ building firm.32

Local Players

As soon as trained musicians arrived in Winnipeg, usually
from England, they opened music studios in Winnipeg to offer private
instruction in voice, piano, organ, and other instruments. Many of these people
were also active in local orchestras or served as church organists and
choirmasters. Some took employment in local music stores to supplement their
meagre income from professional duties. For example, this advertisement was
printed in a daily newspaper:

Mr. C. J. Newman (Associate London Academy of Music),
Organist and Choirmaster, Holy Trinity Church, is now prepared to receive or
visit pupils for organ, piano and voice culture. He is also open to accept
concert engagements as a pianist, accompanist, or for organ recitals. For terms
and appointment, address, for the present, Prince's Music Store.33

In the early days organ recitals in the larger churches were
played before capacity audiences, and they were much more frequent than they
are today. Sometimes they were shared performances involving church choirs,
vocalists, or other instrumentalists. A number of Winnipeg organists were
particularly active, and the newspaper columnists followed their careers with
sustained interest.

One of the earliest was Dr. P. R. Maclagan, a native of
Scotland, who became a church organist there at the age of eighteen. Before
coming to Winnipeg in 1882, he was organist at Christ Church, Montréal,
for about twelve years. He served as organist at several prominent Winnipeg
churches and was in demand as a recitalist throughout the city:

The recital of organ music given by Dr. Maclagan in St.
Mary's Church on Tuesday evening was attended by a large and fashionable
audience, including most every professional and amateur organist in the city.
The programme was an unusually heavy one, and contained representative
compositions of nearly all the Great Masters, classical and modern. . . . The
technical difficulties of some of the pieces, notably the Guilmant sonata, are
enormous; yet they were all performed, not only with apparent ease, but with a
degree of artistic finish seldom or never heard in the country. . . . The
performance was probably superior to anything hitherto executed by that
talented artist, and his many friends who were present expressed their delight
at again enjoying his masterly interpretations.34

On one occasion he travelled to New York to play at one of
the Episcopal churches there. He was musical conductor of the Musical and
Operatic Society, and also of the Madrigal Society, before his untimely death
of consumption in 1887 at the age of thirty-six.

Among the organists who contributed to the development of
the local musical culture was Kate Holmes, organist at Grace Methodist Church
in the 1890s. While a review of her recital at Christ Church Anglican in 1892
was highly appreciative, its condescending tone would not pass late
twentieth-century feminist criteria unchallenged:

Christ church was well filled last evening by a music loving
audience, who had gathered together to hear and appreciate what is not too
often heard in this city, high-class music, well played on the organ. To very
few women is given such power over the master instrument as to Miss Holmes, who
is the organist of Grace church. Without apparent effort, she handles the keys
in a manner that proves her exceptional ability, for a woman, on the organ.

The programme which was selected was a very comprehensive
one, and was well calculated to exhibit the resources of the fine instrument
that Christ church now boasts.35

Robert D. Fletcher played his first reported recital at Holy
Trinity Anglican Church on 27 September 1898; eventually he was appointed
organist at the church, probably due to his demonstrated competence at a number
of recitals he played there and at other locations. This enthusiastic amateur
was pursuing medical studies (he received his medical degree in 1903) at the
time he was awarded a Master of Arts degree from The University of Manitoba in
1902 for his treatise, "The Church Organ--Its Evolution--Some Famous
Instruments." The opening paragraph of his 21-page dissertation accurately
reflected current views of the organ as a rival of the orchestra:

There is probably no instrument which has so engrossed the
public attention, as well as Musicians generally, as the organ, embodying in
its completeness almost all the principal effects obtained from band or
orchestra in solo as well as ensemble playing, even surpassing these in some
respects, and as capable of the most delicate pianissimo as the thundering
forte.

The reviews of his recitals also revealed attitudes towards
organ recitals in general that were widely held at this time:

Music--a branch of the art that, speaking locally, does not
hold its proper place in public esteem. There is usually an absence of vulgar
clap-trap at organ recitals, and in a beautiful church like Holy Trinity the
refined and restful surroundings add much to the impressiveness of such
occasions. Tuesday's programme was by no means a formidable one, in fact there
was not a "big" number on it; but its performance was characterized
by care and skill as to execution, and intelligence as to registration.36

There is a danger in organ music of relying too entirely on the mechanical effects for the interpretation of the work and while these effects are very necessary, in fact indispensable, nothing can take the place of a sympathetic, artistic delivery on the part of the performer himself. There are very few organists in the west who can entertain an audience as did Mr.
Fletcher last evening.37

Fletcher's great popularity can be gauged by the large
attendance at his recitals. He had a dedicated following in other social
circles, for he also played ragtime piano pieces at "smoking
concerts," where groups of men spent evenings playing cards amid the
fragrant odour of superb Havana cigars and being entertained by singers, small
orchestras, and instrumentalists. Even so, ragtime generally was denounced as
musical rot that makes money.38 Nevertheless, one critic deplored the meagre
collection received at one of Fletcher's organ recitals: "His talents will
some day be more substantially appreciated than in a community in which an
audience of one thousand 'music lovers' contribute the magnificent collection
of forty dollars and fifteen cents."39

Eva Ruttan was one of a new generation of organists emerging
in Winnipeg in this period. She received keyboard training in the city before
leaving in 1905 to study with Henry S. Woodruff, organist and musical director
of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis. On her return to Winnipeg two
years later, she opened a studio to accept students in piano and organ and also
became the organist at the new Fort Rouge Methodist Church, where she remained
until 1909. Her first public recital in 1907 was praised in print:

The lady shows distinct improvement in her manipulation of
the difficult instrument, and plays with fine expression. Her best numbers were
"Fanfare" by Lemmens and Lemare's "Andantino." Good
organists are not so many in the city but that a new recruit to the ranks will
be warmly welcome.40 

J. C. Murray, organist at St. Stephen's Church, was not a
frequent recitalist, but he was well known and appreciated in the musical
community. In 1908 a London publisher issued an album of his musical
arrangements of Elizabethan lyrics. One of his rare public performances, in
1909, was compared favourably with those of two world-class players, Edwin
Lemare and Clarence Eddy, who had visited Winnipeg, in terms of his command of
the organ's resources and his mastery of the art of improvisation.41 Murray
later received a warm posthumous tribute from an organist-diarist:

Mr. Murray had been an occasional pupil of Guilmant, i.e., I
think he had benefited on several occasions on courses of lessons designed for
pupils, who could have the time to run over to Paris from Great Britain and sit
at the feet of the great master. Mr. Murray was a superb player and maintained
the highest traditions of organ playing . . . [and] his playing had a charm and
finish that will not be easily forgotten.42

The same diarist also reminisced about George Dore, organist
at Holy Trinity Church for a time, who had arrived in the city from Chatham,
Ontario, late in 1890:

Professor Dore . . . was an elderly gentleman who played for
a time at Holy Trinity and subsequently was organist of the Anglican church in
Portage la Prairie. He had the hall marks of a fine musician and claimed, I
have no doubt with truth, to have been a fellow chorister with Sir John Stainer
and Arthur Sullivan. He was a remarkably clever improviser and a genial soul,
and I think of him with kindness as a man with the instincts of an artist and a
gentleman.43

When Zion Methodist Church installed a new three-manual
Casavant organ in 1905, the new organist Fred M. Gee was at the console. Gee
emigrated from Wales to Winnipeg in 1902 at the age of twenty and opened a
studio to teach piano and organ. In the following year he joined the staff of
the Winnipeg College of Music and became organist-choirmaster of Westminster
Presbyterian Church. For several years after his arrival in Winnipeg, until
around 1907, he was referred to as F. Melsom Gee, perhaps to preserve a family
identification with his father, Melsom D. A. Gee, who followed his son to
Canada in 1906 and served as organist at All Saints' from 1907 until his death
in 1921. Fred Gee served as organist at several churches, including six years
at All Saints' beginning in 1925, and often played inaugural recitals
elsewhere. He established Winnipeg's Celebrity Concert Series in 1927, later
described as the largest on the North American continent. As a full-time
impresario, Gee brought many world-renowned musical artists to perform before
large, enthusiastic audiences. A few months before his death in 1947, Gee was
the soloist in MacDowell's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the visiting Minneapolis
Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos.

Arnold Dann was one Winnipeg organist who achieved
prominence in the field of music education. Shortly after arriving in the city
to become organist at Grace Church, he opened a studio and secured an academic
appointment at Wesley College in 1918:

With the assistance of several talented teachers . . .
[Dann] will conduct classes in all grades for the study of pianoforte, harmony,
musical aesthetics, and interpretations. . . . Mr. Dann is planning to give a
series of organ and piano recitals personally. In addition he will deliver his
popular lectures on "Music and War," "The Complete
Organist," and "The Rise and Development of the Tune."44

Dr. Riddell, principal of [Wesley] College, recognizes the
importance of music as a communal asset and the necessity of placing it in
Winnipeg on the same footing as other arts and sciences. The services of Arnold
Dann, the well known piano virtuoso, and successful director of music at Grace
church, have been engaged. He has been given a professorship and a place on the
faculty of the college.45

Dann's recitals drew large crowds, and their frequency
clearly reflected their sustained success with the musical listening public.
Dann served as organist at Grace Church and held his teaching appointment at
Wesley College until he left Winnipeg in 1923 for the United States, where he
later became organist and choirmaster at a new one million dollar church in
Pasadena, California, in 1924.

Visiting Recitalists

Winnipeg was host to some of the world's most renowned
organists during this period; most of them came from the United States, several
from England, and prominent Canadian players were also represented. Advance
notices of their appearances were followed by lengthy and mainly appreciative
reviews of their recitals. The first reported recital by a visiting organist
took place at the Central Congregational Church in 1890. It was given by the
touring English recitalist Frederic Archer who, according to the English Globe,
"is now the greatest of modern organists . . . 2,000 organ recitals at the
Alexandra Palace." For an admission fee of 50 cents, the audience heard a
program comprised chiefly of transcriptions of orchestral or operatic works by
familiar composers. His return to the city early in the following year was
again accorded an enthusiastic reception.

In succeeding years, Winnipeg audiences heard recitals by
these performers:  J. Warren
Andrews, Minneapolis, at Grace Church in 1894; Frederick H. Torrington,
principal of the Toronto College of Music, at Grace Church in 1898; William C.
Carl, the New York organist who was on his way to give an inaugural recital in
Dawson City, Yukon, at Grace Church in 1903; Rosa d'Erina, the distinguished
Irish prima donna and organist, at St. Boniface Cathedral in 1905; Arthur
Dunham, the organist at Sinai Temple in Chicago who had received a testimonial
from the famous French organ virtuoso and composer Charles-Marie Widor, at Knox
Church in 1906 and 1914; Edwin H. Lemare, the expatriate English organist and
Paderewski of the organ who became a performing superstar of the organ in the
course of world-wide tours, at Grace Church in 1908; Lynnwood Farnam, the
Canadian organist who became a legend in his own time by committing 200 pieces
to memory and playing 500 recitals by the time he was thirty-five, at Augustine
Church in 1908; William Hewlitt, a co-director of the Royal Hamilton
Conservatory of Music and heralded as one of the most brilliant players in the
country, at Broadway Church in 1909; Gatty Sellars, the English organist who
was accompanied by the King's Trumpeter, at Grace Church in 1911 and St. Andrew's Church in 1912; Henry Woodruff, Minneapolis, at Knox Church in 1913; Albert D. Jordan, the Canadian recitalist who had served as organist at the
Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, at Westminster Church in 1915;
Herbert A. Fricker, former city organist of Leeds, England, who came to Canada
to conduct the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, at Westminster Church in 1919; Ernest
MacMillan, who eventually would become recognized as Canada's musical elder
statesman, at Westminster Church in 1919; and T. Tertius Noble, formerly
organist of Ely Cathedral and York Minster before settling in New York, also at
Westminster Church in the same year.

What They Played

The content of organ recital programs over the years can be
attributed to a variety of factors: the performers' backgrounds, training,
musical interests, and technical abilities; reverence for musical tradition and
the attraction of new material; the perceived musical preferences of audiences;
and the tonal resources of the organs. In Winnipeg in the early 1900s there
were only a few orchestras or instrumental groups that could provide public
performances of musical masterpieces of the past or of contemporary works.
Access to this realm of musical culture was broadened by the inclusion in organ
recitals of many transcriptions of operatic, choral, or instrumental works by
major composers. This practice, which was also evident in England and the
United States, eventually attracted much criticism, even in Winnipeg. Dr. Ralph
Horner, the music director of the Imperial Academy of Music and the Arts in
Winnipeg and music editor of a weekly newspaper, later referred to as the
"grand old man of music" in the city, commented on this issue in an
article that advocated more frequent organ recitals in city churches as a means
of increasing public familiarity with good music:

I am not an advocate for playing arrangements of orchestral
music on the organ, for the attempt to illustrate or imitate the orchestra only
results in disparaging the "King of Instruments," but in the absence
of a Symphony Orchestra these organ recitals can be the means of making people
acquainted with orchestral compositions which otherwise they would never
hear.46

In the four decades preceding 1920, there were 111 reported recitals, consisting of 733 selections in all. Slightly more than one-third of all the pieces performed were transcriptions of a wide range of works by the major composers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The most frequently
performed pieces were derived from Wagner's operas Lohengrin, Parsifal, and
Tannhaüser; and Handel's choral works, including his ever-popular
Hallelujah Chorus and Largo. Haydn was represented by arrangements of his
symphonic and chamber works. Audiences also heard organ interpretations of
marches by Gounod (Marche militaire), Mendelssohn (War March of the Priests
from Athalie), and Chopin (Funeral March), along with arrangements of Grieg's
Peer Gynt Suite and Dvorak's New World Symphony. Transcriptions of Von
Suppé's Poet and Peasant Overture, as well as of Beethoven's overtures
and some of his piano pieces, were also presented.

As for original works, Alexandre Guilmant's organ
compositions were the most frequently played, led by his Marche funèbre
et chant séraphique; the earliest reported performance of his Sonata in
D Minor, written in 1874, was in 1885. Bach's toccatas, preludes, and fugues
began to be played often, but almost none of his chorale preludes; more than
half of their performances were by several visiting recitalists. The first
reported performance of his dramatic Toccata and Fugue in D Minor was in 1883.
Mendelssohn was first represented in 1885 by his Sonata No. 1 in F Minor,
composed about forty years earlier. Pieces by Louis
Lefébure-Wély, the fashionable Parisian organist who demonstrated
instruments of the leading French organ builder Cavaillé-Coll in the
mid-1800s, rapidly became recital favourites; one of his works, the Offertoire
in G, was played in the first known organ recital in Winnipeg in 1878, about
ten years after its publication. The works of Charles-Marie Widor were not
included in the programs of touring organists until 1905. Interest in the
compositions of Edwin H. Lemare escalated following his recitals in Winnipeg in
1908, and local organists included many of his lighter works--particularly his
Andantino, later popularized as Moonlight and Roses--in their programs for many
years. The compositions of Alfred Hollins, the blind English organist, began to
appear in the programs of both visiting and local players at least a decade
before his visit to Winnipeg in 1926.

The audiences at organ recitals probably consisted of
parishioners of all the major churches and members of the general public
possessing different degrees of musical enlightenment, along with the leading
musical people of the city--"the tutored and untutored alike," as one
newspaper commentator described them. A "full house" at a large
church would have amounted to a crowd of over 1,000 people. Considering that the
population of Winnipeg around 1900 was about 40,000, and although it more than
tripled within a decade, it is evident that attendance at organ recitals was a
significant aspect of musical culture. These musical-social events were but one
manifestation of intense musical activity that included the forming of bands,
church orchestras, choral societies, and choirs, as well as the establishment
of several musical conservatories, music teachers' associations, and music
clubs, and the inauguration of the Manitoba Musical Competition Festival.

Theatre Organs and Organists

Moving picture theatres were the chief form of popular
entertainment in the cities and towns of Manitoba and elsewhere in the early
years of the twentieth century. The larger Winnipeg movie houses also had
resident vocal soloists, instrumentalists, and orchestras that gave brief
concerts before screenings of motions pictures or during intermissions.
Vaudeville acts and sometimes local military bands were featured in these
events, too.

Theatre organs first were used to provide musical
backgrounds to the action in silent movies. Sometimes these sonic backdrops
were improvised spontaneously by the organist, sometimes they were adaptations
of composed music. In some respects the theatre organ was a competitor of the
orchestra, for the pipe ranks and stop lists of these organs mimicked
orchestral instruments. They were also equipped with a variety of percussion
devices, such as drums, traps, xylophones, bells, and chimes. Organ consoles
were elaborately decorated structures, often of coloured glass backlighted to
silhouette the player. Sometimes they were mounted on hydraulically-operated
platforms that allowed the organist, seated at the console, to rise
dramatically into the audience's view from beneath floor level, playing all the
while.

A bizarre instrument called "The Fotoplayer" was
installed in Winnipeg's Bijou Theatre in 1915. Many of these relatively
inexpensive music machines, manufactured by The American Photo Player Company,
New York, were installed in theatres throughout the United States and
elsewhere, where they added to the public's enjoyment of silent films. This
mechanical wonder included a pressurized reed organ section and perhaps several
ranks of organ pipes, along with various sound effects, all of which could be
played manually or by means of paper rolls. Some models had a device for
shifting quickly from one roll to another to follow the mood changes of the
film. The single keyboard was centred between two sound cabinets that housed
the electric blower, wind chests, and special effects devices. It was
advertised as "The Ninth Wonder of the World, The Musical Masterpiece that
Expresses the Griefs, Joys, and Triumphs of the Artists; that Supplies the
Unspoken Words in the Pictures--Magnificent Orchestral and Organ Tones."

Organ recitals of current popular music and transcriptions
of familiar light classics took on an independent life of their own with the
advent of talking pictures. These performances, like those of theatre
orchestras, were additional attractions to the current motion picture being
shown, and often featured special music for the Christmas season. It is
interesting to note that theatre organists endeavoured to maintain high
standards in their selections of music, whether to accompany the motion picture
or for short recitals during intermissions:

Modern theatres have for some time been equipped with
splendid pipe organs. Good orchestras have been introduced, and are now a
recognized feature. The music is one of the chief attractions. One organist who
plays at a large picture house said recently, "besides recital programmes
and special organ solos, I gave request numbers to get the musical pulse of our
audiences. Only once have I received a request for ragtime or any real cheap
piece. On one occasion I had a request for a Bach Fugue."47

Some theatre organists earned a living out of this activity,
while others occupied posts as church organists at the same time. Their
careers, involving moves from one theatre to another or presiding at the
opening of a new instrument, were reported in the entertainment sections of the
newspapers, perhaps in the belief that their fans would want to follow them
from theatre to theatre.

The installation of a large theatre organ in the Province
Theatre in Winnipeg in September 1917 created a high level of interest. The
three-manual, electric-action instrument (claimed to be the only organ in
Winnipeg so equipped), containing 2,000 pipes, was supplied by the Toronto
organ builder C. Franklin Legge. The $20,000 instrument also had a self-playing
mechanism  that allowed the
instrument to perform on its own in the absence of a trained organist. The
organ was formally opened by George E. Metcalfe, "The Organist
Supreme" from the Pacific Coast, who amused the theatre customers with a
steady stream of improvisations on the "Wonder Organ" throughout the
afternoon and evening. On that occasion the theatre was featuring the
hand-coloured film "Mayblossom," made in France by
Astra-Pathé. 

The Winnipeg theatre organist Walter Dolman had a career as
a church organist before and after his experience in Winnipeg cinemas. Born in
England in 1875, he was appointed organist in a church in Burton-on-Trent at
the age of fourteen. After coming to Canada in 1903, he lived in Toronto and
worked for a while with F. H. Torrington, principal of the Conservatory of
Music, then moved to Chatham, Ontario. He was a church and theatre organist
briefly in Detroit, Michigan, before coming to Winnipeg around 1918 to play at
the largest movie theatres. Later in his career he inaugurated a daily series
of "twilight recitals" in the late afternoon and early evening, when
he presented a mix of music by modern masters, earlier composers, and popular
numbers in vogue with the younger set. In 1928 he moved to nearby Kenora,
Ontario, to become organist at Knox Church in that town, where he remained
until his death in 1947.

The question of the influence of the theatre organ generally
on the development of an appreciation for mainstream organ music was the
subject of a borrowed newspaper editorial. The fear that "bad" music
would drive out "good"was unfounded, according to this writer:

The feeling among musicians that the organ performances
given in "movie" shows lower the public taste for dignified music
seems to be increasing. In regard to the general influence of
"movie"organ music a writer in Musical Opinion says: "When the
instrument began to take a prominent part in the 'movies,' some of us thought
that people, having the organ thus brought to their ears night after night,
would esteem it more highly. But this is not likely to provide an exception to
the rule that 'familiarity breeds contempt.' We are now beginning to see that
the old aloof position of the organ was not a bad thing. True, its public was
limited, but if it spoke to comparatively few, the few were devotees. It is not
likely to gain new ones from its association with Mr. Chaplin."48

Later Years

The 1920s marked the height of fashion for cinema organs.
Several of the larger movie theatres in Winnipeg installed pipe organs in this
period, and the arrival of a new instrument was a matter of intense interest on
the part of the popular musical establishment and the entertainment industry.
Following the advent of the first sound-synchronized "talkies" in 1928, the role of the theatre organist began to change. With the gradual demise of silent motion pictures, cinema organists still continued to provide musical
entertainment before picture showings and during intermissions, but these
practices eventually were discontinued as the talking movies came to be
regarded as self-sufficient entertainments in themselves.

The Winnipeg Centre of the Canadian College of Organists was
established in 1923 by some of the city's leading organists. This small but
enthusiastic group sponsored recitals by local and visiting players and
arranged special events for the improvement of church music generally. The
1920s were the peak period of organ recitals, and the 1930s were almost as
active. The frequency of new organ installations diminished over the succeeding
decades, particularly during the years of World War II, when materials were in
short supply. Many renovations of existing instruments were undertaken in the
1950s, but only a few of the churches built after this time acquired pipe
organs, preferring less costly electronic instruments instead.

The past four decades have been marked by renewal,
consolidation, and modest growth in the fortunes of the organ. Interest in the
organ and its music is still relatively strong today, considering the various
musical and performing arts alternatives, as well as the other forms of
cultural entertainment now available. But in terms of organ installations,
recitals, and intensity of public interest in the King of Instruments and its
players, the period of the "Golden Age" of the organ remains
unsurpassed in the history of music in Manitoba.               

Notes

                        28. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              FP,
15 April 1899.

                        29. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              Winnipeg
Tribune, 22 April 1899.

                        30. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              TT,
31 October 1903

                        31. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              FP,
22 February 1905.

                        32. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              TT,
27 April 1907.

                        33. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              FP,
18 June 1888.

                        34 style='mso-tab-count:1'>                FF,
11 November 1885.

                        35. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              FP,
19 May 1892.

                        36. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              TT,
1 October 1898.

                        37. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              FP,
12 September 1900.

                        38. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              TT,
1 June 1901.]

                        39. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              TT,
5 October 1901.

                        40. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              TT,
19 October 1907.

                        41. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              TT,
8 May 1909.

                        42. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              "Recalling
Early Organists: From the Diary of the Late Jas. W. Matthews," FP, 3
January 1925.

                        43. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              "Few
Pipe Organs When Winnipeg was a Hamlet: Diary of the Late James W. Matthews
Recalls Early Instruments and Players," FP, 13 December 1924.

                        44. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              FP,
31 August 1918.

                        45. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              "Wesley
College to Inaugurate Music Department," FP, 14 September 1918.

                        46. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              "Music,"
TT, 17 February 1912.

                        47. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              "Music,"
FP, 23 March 1918.

                        48. style='mso-tab-count:1'>              FP,
21 September 1918.