Pianist will improvise score for classic silent film in free St Albans recital

PUBLISHED: 19:00 12 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:02 16 October 2018

A shot from Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Paul Goussot will improvise on piano and organ to this silent film in St Albans. Picture: Motion Picture © 1927 Fox Film Corporation. Renewed 1954 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

A shot from Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Paul Goussot will improvise on piano and organ to this silent film in St Albans. Picture: Motion Picture © 1927 Fox Film Corporation. Renewed 1954 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

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An award-winning French musician will improvise a unique soundtrack to a classic silent film in St Albans.

A shot from Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Paul Goussot will improvise on piano and organ to this silent film in St Albans. Picture: Motion Picture © 1927 Fox Film Corporation. Renewed 1954 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.A shot from Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Paul Goussot will improvise on piano and organ to this silent film in St Albans. Picture: Motion Picture © 1927 Fox Film Corporation. Renewed 1954 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

Live on stage, organist Paul Goussot will make up a music track to a 1927 film about a man struggling against the strong will of his mistress and his wife called Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans.

This film is described as a sentimental monochrome fairytale and one of the silent era’s last hurrahs by Pamela Hutchinson in a The Guardian review.

The event is one of three free Saturday afternoon recitals as part of the St Albans International Organ Festival 2018 - 2019.

Paul said: “Music is, in my opinion, an essential element in silent film.

A shot from Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Paul Goussot will improvise on piano and organ to this silent film in St Albans. Picture: Motion Picture © 1927 Fox Film Corporation. Renewed 1954 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.A shot from Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Paul Goussot will improvise on piano and organ to this silent film in St Albans. Picture: Motion Picture © 1927 Fox Film Corporation. Renewed 1954 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

“Its role is not only to create an atmosphere, a psychological mood, and to enhance effects and emotions, but also to give a certain ‘legibility’ and shape to the film or a stronger identity to the characters.

“Sunrise is undoubtedly [the director’s] most musical film, and music is often suggested by the images themselves.”

He said the structure of the movie is similar to a symphony in four movements through changes in speed, texture, theme, and tone.

In the opening titles Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau writes: “This song of the Man and his Wife is of no place and every place; you might hear it anywhere at any time.”

A shot from Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Paul Goussot will improvise on piano and organ to this silent film in St Albans. Picture: Motion Picture © 1927 Fox Film Corporation. Renewed 1954 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.A shot from Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Paul Goussot will improvise on piano and organ to this silent film in St Albans. Picture: Motion Picture © 1927 Fox Film Corporation. Renewed 1954 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

Paul, who is titular organist of the Dom Bedos instrument at medieval Abbey of St-Croix in Bordeaux, has won the improvisation prize in the St Albans International Organ Festival competition in 2011.

Admission is free but any donations will be collected in aid of the St Albans International Organ Festival Society.

Paul’s performance will take place on October 20 from 5.30pm at St Peter’s Church.

The next organ festival takes place from July 8 to 20 next year - it attracts leading performers from around the world along with talented up and coming musicians.

It was founded in 1963 by the distinguished organist Peter Hurford.

Current artistic director of the festival is Prof David Titterington, who is head of organ studies at London’s Royal Academy of Music.

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