Pacific Symphony logo

Press Release


Jean Oelrich
Director of Marketing & Communications
(714) 876-2380

All for one and one for all! Pacific Symphony welcomes back organist Dennis James to perform the soundtrack to the classic 1921 silent film, “The Three Musketeers”

January 23, 2014

Pacific Symphony’s Pedals and Pipes series explodes with musical adventures and thrilling romance when acclaimed organist Dennis James revives the soundtrack to the 1921 classic film, “The Three Musketeers,” starring the legendary swashbuckler Douglas Fairbanks as d’Artagnan. Versatile sounds from the 4,322 pipes of the commanding William J. Gillespie Concert Organ provide the film’s emotional force as James recreates Louis F. Gottschalk’s original score live. At the premiere, the New York Herald described the film as “a kind of combination of Dumas, Douglas and delirium. One moment it boils with action and the next it snaps and sparkles with humor.” Admired for its exemplary production value and ornamentation, the film conveys a young and energetic d’Artagnan who arrives in Paris and thrives under the private tutelage of three of the most respected and feared Musketeers, a story that has entertained audiences for generations. The film’s impact on Fairbanks was so great that he wore d’Artagnan’s moustache for the rest of his life.

This unforgettable revival takes place Sunday, Feb. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets are $10-$44. For more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or visit

 “Audiences can expect a marvelous introduction to a historic film presentation art form that is now being revived all across the world,” says James, America’s foremost creator and performer of organ music for films of the silent era. “Live music with silent

film and, in particular, organ music together with the images bring to life once again a

time of high drama and melodrama. Dashing leading men like Fairbanks thrilled movie audiences in a flood of adventure films that offered romance as well as plenty of two-fisted action.”

            The 1921 film features the extremely talented Fairbanks, who projects a heady combination of physical prowess and sex appeal. His portrayal of d’Artagnan in “The Three Musketeers” is an adventure-fantasy paradigm and sets a standard for swashbuckling that remains the standard against which movie heroes are judged. Fairbanks’ athleticism aided in a one-armed handspring, enabling him to grab his antagonist’s sword with his free hand and is considered one of the greatest movie stunts of all time.

            “With missing dialogue, silent films demanded the audience use its imagination. They supplied the voices, and the solo organist provided the supportive musical score and sound effects,” continues James. “It was about more than going to a movie; it was about attending a fully realized theatrical experience.

“Over the past few decades, against all odds, silent movies have been making a comeback. Why? Because the silents offer timeless romance, adventure, thrill and laughter. Because they involve us as participants in the show: co-creators filling in, in our ‘mind’s ear.’”

For more than 40 years, James has played a pivotal role in the international revival of silent films with live music. He began professional film accompaniment at Indiana University while he was a music student in the late 1960s and was appointed Hollywood’s International Ambassador of the Silent Film in 1998. James now tours under the auspices of the Silent Film Concerts production company, performing to silent films with solo organ, piano and chamber ensemble accompaniments in addition to presentations with major symphony orchestras throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico,

Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

James is renowned for providing the most comprehensive selection of authentic

silent films with live music presentations available today, using his extensive personal scoring library—the largest such private collection in existence, with contributions from musicians, studios and libraries around the world. James also serves as house organist for the Historic Everett Theatre in Everett, Wash. and as theater organist for the San Diego Symphony.

The one-of-a-kind William J. Gillespie Concert Organ, built from steel, tin, oak, poplar, maple, lead and carbon fiber, required three years and 42,000 hours of labor by a team of organ builders at C.B. Fisk and debuted in 2008.

The Symphony’s “Pedals and Pipes” organ series is sponsored by Valerie and Barry Hon, and concludes on April 4 when Cameron Carpenter smashes the stereotypes of organists and organ music.