Sounds of the Silents Podcast
Behind the Scenes Documentary
Men of Sparta
The Furious Mob
The Evil Plotter
Defense of Honor
What’s Your Favorite Movie?
“There was quite a bit of generic music that was sent out to the theaters, which could be used in multiple different film operations, and we’re playing some of that.”
Howard Lyon, ECO Concertmaster Emeritus
“This music truly one-of-a-kind in that it is existing in the form that it is; we have all of the parts for it. We have a good sense of what Zamecnik might have wanted from a theatre group that was underscoring this music.”
Matthew Kraemer, Music Director
Nine members of Gannon University’s Erie Chamber Orchestra (ECO) headed into the studio over the Memorial Day weekend, 2014, for a groundbreaking recording project featuring music from film legend J.S. Zamecnik. This recording’s purpose is to shed a new light on the wealth of music contributed by Zamecnik to the fledgling oeuvre that was film composition in the early 20th century. With titles such as “The Treacherous Knave”, “Evil Plotter”, “Waterfalls” and “Defense of Honor”, Zamecnik’s music was used as the underscoring for thousands of cartoons, shorts and feature films in the early part of the 20th century.
More specifically, in the Porky Pig cartoon “The Blow Out”, one can actually hear the exact music being played from the song “The Treacherous Knave”, one of the 14 songs to be recorded this weekend.
These copies of the full orchestra parts of this music are believed to be the only ones in existence anywhere in the country.
“Playing music that has never been recorded before is both terrifying and liberating; you don’t have anything to compare yourself to. It’s very new, but at the same time, you have also have that kind of weight of saying well, this will be the first.”
David Graham, ECO Principal Flute
This collection of music from Zamecnik, along with nearly 1,000 individual songs and underscoring from a myriad of composers, was donated to the ECO’s founding conductor Bruce Morton Wright a decade ago. Discovered here in the bowels of the university by then newly hired GM Weiser in the summer of 2012, this one-of-a-kind library was once feared lost.
Now, with the help of author, Case Western professor, and worldwide Zamecnik expert Daniel Goldmark, both the region and the nation will have the opportunity to discover the lasting impact Zamecnik has had on modern cinema, a role in which, up until this point, he has been widely and embarrassingly overlooked.
“For me to be a part of this film history, where music entered the picture, and from essentially the beginning of film, is remarkably meaningful for me.”
Ruth Ann Scanzillo, ECO Principal Cellist and pianist for this recording
These recording sessions were the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign this past winter, which saw General Manger Steve Weiser and the ECO raise more than $5,000 from donors across the world. This method of crowd sourcing has grown exponentially over the last few years, allowing smaller budget, non-profit organizations the ability to tackle projects above and beyond their budgets.
The album, entitled “The Sounds of the Silents” was released in the fall of 2014 in conjunction with the ECO’s October 17th concert featuring a live presentation of Charlie Chaplin’s masterpiece “City Lights.”