Friday, September 12, 2008

The Last of the Silent Movie Pianists

City of Memory has an astonishing audio documentary about Abe Lass, born in 1907 and at his death 93 years later was the last living pianist to have played the silent movie houses in the early days of the cinema. The 1997 WYNC documentary listed on the City of Memory page has some fascinating insight from Abe about the art of situation-cued piano improvisation, which at once time was the staple of cinema pianists, but is now a completely mostly lost art.

See also:
Update: A big thanks for a comment by Donald Sosin, who still keeps the art of cinematic pianism alive. Be sure to check out Donald's website for silent film events, resources, and music.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this! I met Abe in the 90's when we had a number of different pianists playing in a mini-festival at the American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY (NYC). Nice guy, and I have his LP of his movie music. I have been playing for silents myself over 35 years. My website: Hope to hear you play sometime! My silent film scores on DVD are available through and and I have online piano lessons for beginners at and hundreds of arrangements of pop songs in print (Hal Leonard, Cherry Lane). Best wishes, Donald Sosin Lakeville CT