Sunday, March 30, 2014

Special Edition- A Tribute to Ray Brubacher, Maestro of the “Mighty Wurlitzer” (1940-2014)

From a 1990 Associated Press article on
silent film organist Ray Brubacher.

At The Matinee is saddened to hear about the recent passing of noted silent film organist, Ray Brubacher. 

In the area, Brubacher was best known for performing his silent film compositions at the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, Maryland- on the theater’s historic 1926 Wurlitzer organ (from the theater’s days as the Tivoli).  An article on Brubacher’s life and career was featured in this Sunday’s edition of The News-Post.

Ray Brubacher began his interest in musical accompaniment for older silent features at a young age, composing music for silent 8mm movies.  In addition to performing music for revival screenings of classic silent features at the Weinberg, he also performed for the American Film Institute Theater at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Gallery of Art, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.    

He was also a chapel organist, crew member, and photo archivist for the S.S. John W. Brown- the nation’s oldest operating World War II Liberty Ship.  Brubacher also performed as a musical director and organist for the Oakdale Emory United Methodist Church in Olney, Maryland.  He also taught private piano and organ lessons to students.  Brubacher was also one of the founding members of the Free State Organ Society.

He also released an album of his organ compositions performed on the Tivoli/Weinberg Wurlitzer organ, titled Who Is Ray Brubacher and What’s He Doing With Those Pipes?   It was released on the Concert Recording label, his album is featured on display in the lobby of the Weinberg.  Brubacher's rendition of Paul McCartney's Yesterday can be heard here.

A documentary was produced on the Weinberg in 2010, and features an interview with Brubacher, describing the inner workings and history of the theater’s Wurlitzer pipe organ- along with the theater’s quick transition from silent to sound films (as part of Warner Bros.’ acquisition of the theater’s owner- the Stanley Corporation of America in 1928).  Another segment with Brubacher is also featured on YouTube.

Farewell to the maestro of the area’s “mighty Wurlitzer” theater organ, Ray Brubacher (1940-2014).

The Weinberg Center For The Arts will have a tribute to the life of Ray Brubacher on April 6th at 3:00 PM.  According to the News-Post article, members of the public are invited to attend and tickets are not required.  Donations may be made to the Weinberg Center (20 West Patrick Street, Frederick, Maryland 21701) or to the Alzheimer’s Association (1850 York Road Suite D, Timonium, Maryland 21093).

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