ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

From: Thomas Klose, April 2001

The Lichtburg in the city centre of Essen, built in 1928, was not only the largest theatre of the steel area but also on of the largest in the whole of Germany. As a special attraction it received a 2/8 Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ (op. 1947, model 200) which was shipped from the Wurlitzer factory August 30, 1928 and opened in the cinema by Paul Mania October 18 of the same year.

A commemorative volume released by the present owners of the Lichtburg in 1998 on the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of the cinema says the price of the organ was 150,000 Reichsmark in 1928. The grand opening included a prelude by Paul Mania on the Wurlitzer, followed by some classic music played by the thirty bodies house orchestra directed by Franco Fedeli including the "Orpheus in the Underworld Overture ". The program went on with jazz-duets on the Wurlitzer (George Latsch) and a Steinway grand (Esther Latsch) including "Hallelujah", "Gluehwuermchen", "Ramona-Intermezzo", "My blue heaven" and "Konstantinopel", followed by the Lichtburg Newsreel, the first film by Emil Skladanovsky of 1895 and a trick film accompanied by George Latsch on the organ. After the interval a stage show of some ballet pieces carried out by members of the Folies Bergères from Paris leaded over to the main film of opening night, "Marquis d'Eon, Spy of the Pompadour".

German cinema organist Josef Schafgans was later appointed resident organist in the Lichtburg.

Unfortunately, the theatre was hit by a bomb on March 5, 1943 and destroyed almost completely. The whole stage area was demolished and nothing was left the organ. Alone the street front of the building remained. However, the Lichtburg was rebuilt to new glory and reopened in 1950, although reduced in size. The new auditorium had only 1,660 seats instead of 1,999 as in the pre-war building.

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