Profiles Interviews

Silent Film Accompanist Dennis James

George Walker speaks with theater organist, scholar, and IU alumnus Dennis James, the most acclaimed practitioner of the art of solo silent film accompaniment

Dennis James in tuxudo, smiling, sitting at a theater organ

Photo: Courtesy photo

Dennis James

I created my own degree program: I majored in organ and minored in business, and then film studies—which were at that very moment emerging. The first academic film studies program was here in Indiana. So I just sort of fell into what turned out to be exactly what I needed.

Dennis James is an internationally renowned silent film accompanist who has played a pivotal role in the revival of the silents presented with live music.

Since 1971 he has performed live accompaniments for silent films, with piano, theater organ, chamber ensemble and full symphony orchestras on the worldwide film festival circuit.

An IU music school alumnus, James recently revived an annual IU Auditorium tradition that he started when he lived in Bloomington nearly forty years ago: playing organ during silent movies at Halloween.

  • Jmacking

    used to listen to dennis at the OHio theater in columbus ohio

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