A landmark within a landmark
The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ is perhaps the Byrd’s most recognizable trademark. The Rudolf Wurlitzer Company, which custom made organs for the leading theatres of the country, installed the organ when the theatre was built. The “Mighty Wurlitzer” theatre organ was designed as a “one man orchestra” to accompany silent movies.
The Wurlitzer organ occupies four rooms on the fourth floor over the stage, plus the two alcoves in the house, a vacuum blower for the piano in the basement, an elevator room in the basement, and the console pit in the center of the orchestra pit. The two rooms above the stage contain the organ pipe work, drums, bells, horns and many other effects – all sounds are created by instruments and are not synthesized. Under the piano in the left alcove is a master xylophone about six feet long. Under the harp in the right alcove is a marimba or wood harp that is played from the console. Currently, a little over half of the organ parts work but much has been repaired over the last two years and as funds become available, the Foundation plans to fully restore this valuable piece of musical Americana to its original condition.
The organ has been played regularly at the Byrd since it opened by several house organists, but most people associate it with Eddie Weaver who played at the Byrd from 1961 to 1981. The current organist, Bob Gulledge, was Weaver’s student.
See and experience our live organ show featuring Bob Gulledge every Saturday night at the start of the two evening shows.
PLUS-While the the Byrd Family Classic series is running, Bob will not only be playing for
our Family Classic screenings, but also for our regular Saturday matinees.
The length of these performances is not set in stone…they are live musical presentations! Our regular Saturday night shows can be anywhere from 12-15 minutes. Holiday and sing-a-longs can be between 15-20 minutes.
Obviously these additions skew our show length a bit and can delay the start of later screenings, as does large attendance.
The organ show will never start before the scheduled showtime.
Hear our house organist, Bob Gulledge, play the Byrd’s Mighty Wurlitzer:
(Recorded in stereo on January 23rd ’98)
Bob can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org