Silent Films

An ardent fan of old movies, Dorothy ‘learned at the feet’ of preeminent silent film composer/organist Lee Erwin how to improvise silent films in the traditional theatre organ style. From the great comedies of Charlie Chaplin & Buster Keaton to legendary horror films, Dorothy’s imaginative harmonic language and special effects bring these films to vibrant life. “Watching Papadakos improvise is as dramatic as the film became engrossed in the film then suddenly realize she’s been playing for over an hour!” Dorothy is in great demand, renowned for her thrilling improvised film scores, in particular Lon Chaney’s 1929 Phantom of the Opera and the many Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton & Harold Lloyd comedy shorts. She has opened film festivals & jazz festivals and plays silent films in concert halls, cathedrals, schools, civic auditoriums, universities & theatres all over the world. "Silent films & music are an international language for all ages and I love the live Organist/Audience/Actor synergy at every screening. It's always different and unpredictable!" says Dorothy. For bookings please contact or

For Dorothy's most recent live silent film performances,
please visit her News & Events Page.

Dorothy Papadakos, Concert Organist

“Opening Night [of the 2006 Rehoboth Film Festival] set the scene as internationally acclaimed organist Dorothy Papadakos received an extended standing ovation after enthralling the crowd with her improvised accompaniment of the 1929 version of Lon Chaney’s silent film classic Phantom of the Opera.”
The Cape Gazette, Delaware, USA

“Ms. Papadakos’ program exhibited her trademark flair for presentation and drama. She put the large Möller organ through its paces in an improvised accompaniment to the 1929 The Phantom of the Opera silent film. What a treat to hear artist and organ collaborate to bring the classic images to life, through a marathon of creativity and dramatic artistry!”
Classical Voice of North Carolina, USA

“The 2004 Ampthill Music Festival was opened by Dorothy Papadakos who brilliantly improvised the showing of the silent movie Phantom of the Opera for over seventy minutes. The whole event saw me with a heightened sense of awareness.”
Ampthill Music Festival, England

“When Dorothy Papadakos climbs into the organ loft at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, she rolls up her sleeves and rocks. Formerly organist at the cavernous cathedral on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, she is known for adding jazz, African rhythms and real heart to centuries-old hymns. “She is so creative and improvisational and daring with the organ, it’s bordering on the illegal,” says Philippe Petit, the high-wire artist.”
The New York Times

“Little Orchestra Society had a charming idea for its [Lincoln Center] concert on Thursday night: concertos for exotic instruments seldom given the solo spotlight with Dino Anagnost’s orchestra. Ian Finkel, Susan Jolles, Guy Klucevesek, Robert Bonfiglio, Dorothy Papadakos and Harvey Phillips were fine soloists on the xylophone, organ, accordion, harmonica and tuba.”
The New York Times

“Renowned for her organ improvisation based on jazz and theatre roots, composer, lyricist and organist Dorothy Papadakos joins the four-time Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Paul Winter in a musical realm which embraces the traditions of many cultures and interweaves instruments of many kinds in what they refer to as the greatest symphony on earth. This award winning body of work transcends categories, reflecting the artists’ wide-ranging experiences in the musical traditions and natural environments of the earth.”
Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, Singapore

Shades of Green CD: Dorothy Papadakos brings a daring new multi-cultural programming. This is her most daring album so far. It contains brilliant, colorful organ improvisations … Papadakos always seems able to blend disparate elements into a viable whole. The people of New York are fortunate to have a versatile musician of such diverse vision performing in their midst.”

“Comfortable chairs were on hand for the [London] contemplation of Donald Moffett’s paintings The Incremental Commandments, intermittently accompanied by a sound track: organist Dorothy Papadakos improvising on Chic’s disco anthem Le Freak. She blasts away in fine style, brewing an aural mix of grandeur and banality that’s irresistible.”
Art Forum Magazine

Photo Credit: Mirja Hussain, Etelä-Suomen Sanomat Newspaper, Lahti, Finland

dorothy papadakos