David Briggs (Shenstone, 1973 - 81) improvises Organ accompaniment to the 1929 silent film
Phantom of the Opera
David Briggs (Solihull School Former Student) is an internationally renowned organist, consistently ranked as one of the finest of his generation.
One of the exceptional music pupils of the David Turnbull era, after leaving Solihull David became the Organ Scholar at King’s College, Cambridge (1981 - 83). The first British winner of the Tournemire Prize at the St Albans International Improvisation Competition, he also won the first prize in the International Improvisation Competition at Paisley. Subsequently David held positions at Hereford, Truro and Gloucester Cathedrals.
Described as ‘an intrepid improviser” by Michael Barone, host of American Public Media’s Pipedreams, David also frequently performs improvisations to silent films such as Phantom of the Opera, Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Nosferatu, Jeanne d’Arc, Metropolis, King of Kings, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the General, and a variety of Charlie Chaplin films. David’s film repertoire is large and growing -- he has played accompaniment to dozens of films including Lang’s Metropolis, Hitchcock’s The Lodger and shorts by Chaplain and Keaton. For all this, he also remains a repertoire recitalist of the front rank and a highly prolific composer.
David’s extensive repertoire spans five centuries. He has also become one of the foremost organ transcribers of symphonic works, thereby giving listeners the opportunity to experience the organ in a new way. He has transcribed orchestral compositions by Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Elgar, Bruckner, Ravel, and Bach as well as Mahler’s Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth symphonies.
Deeply committed to ensuring organ music remains relevant and vibrant, David enjoys giving pre-concert lectures and demonstrations that help make organ music more broadly accessible. He teaches performance at Cambridge University, frequently serves on international organ competition juries, and gives master classes at colleges and conservatories across the U.S. and Europe.
David performs more than 50 concerts a year at such venues as Maison Symphonique, Montreal; Royal Albert Hall, London; Notre -Dame, St Sulpice and St Eustache, Paris; Kimmel Center, Philadelphia; Berlin Philharmonie, Germany; St James Cathedral, Toronto; International Performing Arts Center, Moscow; Valencia Cathedral, Spain; National Auditorium, Madrid; Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria (BC); Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway; Grace Cathedral, San Francisco (CA); and Kings College, Cambridge.
David Briggs is also a prolific composer and his works range from full scale oratorios to works for solo instruments. He has recorded two DVDs, and 37 CDs, many of which include his own compositions and transcriptions.
David is currently Artist-in-Residence at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York City. For more information, Please visit: www.david-briggs.org.The Original Phantom of the Opera (1929)
The 1925 silent film version of The Phantom of the Opera, directed by Rupert Julian, is a classic adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra.
The film stars Lon Chaney in the title role as the masked and facially deformed ‘phantom’ who haunts the Paris Opera House, causing murder and mayhem in an attempt to force the management to make the woman he loves a star. It is most famous for Lon Chaney’s intentionally horrific, self-applied make-up, which was kept a studio secret until the film’s premier.
The film also features Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Gibson Gowland, John St. Polis and Snitz Edwards. The only surviving case member is Carla Laemmle (born 1909), niece of producer Carl Laemmle, who played a small role as prima ballerina in the film when she was about 15.
The movie was adapted by Elliott J. Clawson, Frank M. McCormack (uncredited), Tom Reed (titles) and Raymond L. Schrock. It was directed by Rupert Julian, with supplemental direction by Edward Sedgwick, and Lon Chaney (unconfirmed).
Notes by Jonathan Lilley (Ely Cathedral, UK) – used with permission.