Jan also has a lot to do with the theater organs in the Netherlands.

Jan revises, maintains, repairs, but also regularly plays the theater organ.
Together with friends he honors the theater organ, also known as the cinema organ.
Take a look at another website, made by Jan.




How it started

In the thirties of the last century there were many Dutch
theaters and cinemas set up organs that served to the then
provide soundless movies with music and sounds ranging from the
sound of a departing train up to and including the horn of one
Model T and birds.

Theater organs (also called cinema organs) are full-fledged
“one-man orchestras”. After the emergence of the sound film, many
organs removed from cinemas and demolished (as well as many, incidentally
theaters and cinemas themselves).

Fortunately, not all organs were lost. In the sixties and
seventy there were also similar organs in studios of a few
broadcasters (including VARA and AVRO).



About the theater organ

As mentioned, the theater organ was used in the past in silent, 'silent' film.
It was an experience to watch a flashing black and white film of Laurel and Hardy or Buster Keaton with the organ as accompaniment. How did it go?

"Oeiii, what's happening now? What is Stan Laurel doing? Dangerous!" (exciting music)
Suddenly a car arrives. "TOOT TOOT" (the organist presses a special organ button, which makes you hear a real car horn.)
"WATCH OUT OOOOP !!! " A train hits a house. (The organist puts his whole arm on the keyboard of the organ.) "WOEMMMMM"
Fortunately, everything is going well with Stan Laurel (and cheerful music can be heard from the organ again).

Everyone burst out laughing. It was very entertaining and still is!!
Still is ? Yes, because it is still being done. In addition to the great concerts, a silent film is also regularly accompanied on the theater organ. And that remains fun!


Something about the technique

In addition to the imposing full typical organ sounds (there are soon about 900 different organ pipes) other instruments are also controlled. Think of a xylophone or a glockenspiel (metallophone or sounding bells). On each wooden bar of the xylophone there is an air bellow with a hammer. If you press a key on the console, the air bellow expands so that the hammer hits the wooden bar and you hear the tone of the xylophone. There are also tubular bells, a vibraphone or a real piano that can be operated remotely.
In addition, there are also many effects on a theater organ, such as: a car horn, birds, percussion instruments, siren, steam whistle, horse hooves, wind and rain.

The air bellows are controlled by air via a solenoid valve.

To the eye, the console looks the same as that of a large electronic organ with a lot of buttons. But no sound comes out of this console at all:  all instruments that are set up in the organ room(s) are operated from the console at some distance.

With the volume pedals under the organ, the large wooden slats near the organ chambers can be opened and closed so that you hear loud or soft sound. These slats are called shutters.

Laurel en Hardy met het Theaterorgel

Before you can play the organ, a large blower must first be started. Because a lot of air is needed for all these instruments. The air is transported to the organ chambers through a large tube in which you can almost stand.


Most theater organs in the Netherlands are maintained by the Dutch Organ Federation . It is an association, a voluntary organization with active members, but fortunately also with a large number of financially supportive members. Because the association receives no subsidy and the maintenance of theater organs is a costly affair, members and donors are essential for the continued existence of the association and therefore the theater organs in the Netherlands.

The theater organs can be used for all kinds of events:
- concerts (there are regular concerts by - often English - organists)
- accompanying silent movies
- open console days (come and play yourself on this mighty organ)
- organists' days (various Dutch organists give mini-concerts)
- dance evenings, birthdays
- and much more.

Many elderly members can remember all too well what a great 'night out' it was with such a Theater Organ. Who doesn't remember Cor Steyn? (known from Dorus/Tom Manders, among others). Cor also often played the theater organs, for example in Amsterdam's Tuschinski and City theatre.

Younger and younger audiences are becoming familiar with the theater organ again and they are impressed when they stand in such an organ room and the organ is played. You feel the wind blowing against you and because of the overwhelming sound you soon put your hands on your ears.


More information: www.theaterorgel.nl