The Miditzer is a virtual instrument for Windows PCs that recreates a Wurlitzer Style 216 theatre organ. The latest version features the FluidSynth software sampler and comes preloaded with the Cinema SoundFont. You can download it free for personal non-commercial use.
This is a standalone virtual instrument that can be controlled by a computer/ MIDI keyboard. The Miditzer Settings allow you to set MIDI input/output devices and control FluidSynth parameters including SoundFont loading. Full documentation and support are provided at the Miditzer website.
Robert Hope-Jones and the Mighty Wurlitzer
The "Mighty Wurlitzer" was a phrase used to describe theatre organs manufactured by the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company between 1914 -1940. These large pipe organs were based on the original designs of Robert Hope-Jones who developed the idea of a one-man-orchestra in an instrument he called the "unit orchestra".
The elaborate instruments were conceived to replace or compliment expensive live orchestras that supplied the soundtracks to movies during the silent era. Organ designs incorporated a combination of sonic devices including pipes, pianos, percussion instruments and sound effects such as bird whistles to produce a wide range of timbres.
Robert Hope-Jones developed a system known as electro-pneumatic action that allowed the organ console to be detached from the pipe chambers. The distinctive horseshoe shaped consoles used multiple keyboards and foot pedals to control the sound sources. An array of switches in the form of tabs and drawbars allowed the organist to select a mix of instrument combinations.
The musicians that played these types of machines represent the original pioneers of live electronic audio/visual performance. In many respects they were the DJs of their time and the quality of their instruments and musical abilities would be greatly appreciated by the communities they served.
Listen to a sample of theatre organ virtuoso George Wright playing Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
For more information on theatre organs see Wikipedia: Theatre Organ
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The Miditzer Interface