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The Alabama Theatre 4/28 Mighty WurliTzer

Click here to download a 1600 x 1200 JPG image of Big Bertha, the 4/28 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ installed at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama.
Big Bertha, the 4/28 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ
installed at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama

All About Big Bertha

Big Bertha! This is the name those who know her have affectionately given to this, the only red and gold leafed four manual Publix 1 style WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ in existance, installed at the magnificent Alabama Theatre in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.

Click here to download a 4497 x 3117 JPG image of Big Bertha, the 4/28 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ on stage at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama.
Big Bertha, the 4/28 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ
installed at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama

The Alabama Theatre Pipe Organ is WurliTzer Opus 1783. The legendary theatre organist, Jesse Crawford, laid out its design for use in deluxe venues for the Publix Theatre chain, thus the designation by WurliTzer as Style Publix 1. The basic design specification included four manuals, twenty ranks, eight sets of tuned percussion units, and all the sound effects needed to accompany silent movies. Eight additional ranks of pipes have been added to expand the tonal capabilities of the organ, making a total of 28 ranks with a total of 2,008 pipes.

Click here to download a 3156 x 4371 JPG image of Big Bertha, the 4/28 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ on stage at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama.
Big Bertha, the 4/28 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ
installed at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama

A Closer Look At The Console

Click here to download a 2048 x 1536 JPG image showing the back rail of Big Bertha's keydesk.
The back rail of Big Bertha's keydesk.

Click here to download a 2048 x 1536 JPG image showing the left bolster and endblock.
The left bolster and endblock.

Click here to download a 2048 x 1536 JPG image showing the left bolster curve.
The left bolster curve.

Click here to download a 2048 x 1536 JPG image showing the fallboard.
Big Bertha's Fallboard.

Click here to download a 2048 x 1536 JPG image showing the right bolster curve.
The right bolster curve.

Click here to download a 2048 x 1536 JPG image showing the right bolster and endblock.
The right bolster and endblock.

All About Big Bertha's Home

The following pictures, as well as the two large shots of the console above, were taken from the Library of Congress on their American Memories Catalogue of Built In America Pages. To see the complete collection of photographs from which these were taken, click here.

Click here to download a 3091 x 4441 JPG image showing the marque of the Alabama Theatre.
The marque of the Alabama Theatre.

The Alabama Theatre opened on December 16, 1927, and was named the "Showplace of the South" by the movie vanguard Adolph Zuker. The theatre was once a part of the Paramount Theatre Chain. Numerous stars of Broadway and the Silver Screen have appeared on the stage, such as, John Barrymore, Roy Rogers, and Tallulah Bankhead.

Click here to download a 3101 x 4486 JPG image showing the lobby of the Alabama Theatre.
The lobby of the Alabama Theatre.

The Alabama Theatre is five stories tall and seats 2200 people. The seats are divided amongst the main floor, mezzanine, and balcony. The architecture is "Spanish/Moorish" and the predominant colors are red, green, and gold. It is lit by thousands of light bulbs of red, blue, amber, and white.

Click here to download a 4677 x 3245 JPG image showing the beautiful auditorium of the Alabama Theatre.
The beautiful auditorium of the Alabama Theatre.

In 1987, the owners declared bankruptcy and the theatre was purchased by a non-profit corporation which has turned the classic theater into a performing arts center. The Alabama Theatre for the Performing Arts now showcases live shows and even a few films.

Click here to download a 4486 x 3106 JPG image showing the auditorium of the Alabama Theatre.
The auditorium of the Alabama Theatre.

The theatre was designated the state historic theatre in 1993 by Act no. 93-26. In 1998, the Alabama Theatre underwent a complete front door to back door restoration. The work was done by EverGreene Studios of New York City. In eight months, the theatre went from its look of faded grandeur to a sparkling 1927 look with all the gold leaf paint either replaced or cleaned. In addition to the restoration, new carpet was installed in the ladies lounge and new drapes were installed on the stage and organ chambers.

To find out more about the home of Big Bertha, contact:

THE ALABAMA THEATRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
1817 Third Avenue North
Birmingham, Alabama 35203
(205)ALA-BAMA
(205) 252-2262

A Look Inside The Chambers

Click here to download a 2048 x 1536 JPG image showing some of Big Bertha's tall boys.
Big Bertha's tall boys.

Click here to download a 1536 x 2048 JPG image showing one of Big Bertha's chambers.
One of Big Bertha's chambers.

Click here to download a 2048 x 1536 JPG image showing another of Big Bertha's chambers.
Another of Big Bertha's chambers.

Click here to download a 2048 x 1536 JPG image showing Big Bertha's string chamber.
Big Bertha's string chamber.

Free Downloads at the ATOS Website

Listen to the 4/28 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ installed at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama!

These recordings are courtisy of ATOS, from the Theatre Organ Music page.

Tom Hazleton plays Clair de Lune (Claude Debussy)
From the album The Alabama WurliTzer
4/28 WurliTzer, Alabama Theatre, Birmingham, Alabama.

Tom Hazleton plays Princeton Loyalty (Virgil Fox)
From the album The Alabama WurliTzer
4/28 WurliTzer, Alabama Theatre, Birmingham, Alabama.

Tom Hoehn at Big Bertha!

Click here to download a 1536 x 2048 JPG image showing Tom Hoehn seated at the console of Big Bertha for a publicity shot.
Tom Hoehn at Big Bertha

On Septemeber 9th of 2006, Tom Hoehn played Big Bertha for a scheduled concert. He sent the tracks via FTP to the Walnut Hill website wherein we spent the remainder of the weekend and the first part of the following week getting them on the site as 128KB/sec stereo WMA files. These tracks were recorded live on his Dell laptop computer using a Berhinger USB mixer and CAD condenser microphones.

  1. That's Entertainment
    Playing time = 3:31, file size = 3.25MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  2. Tom chats with the crowd
    Playing time = 2:31, file size = 2.34MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  3. Theme from The Apartment
    Playing time = 4:01, file size = 3.71MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  4. Theme from Ice Castles
    Playing time = 5:26, file size = 5.03MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  5. Theme from Breakfast At Tiffany's
    Playing time = 4:43, file size = 4.37MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  6. Rise and Shine
    Playing time = 2:05, file size = 1.94MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  7. Medley - Finnian's Rainbow
    Playing time = 12:03, file size = 11.1MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  8. Forgotten Dreams
    Playing time = 3:25, file size = 3.17MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  9. Everything's Coming Up Roses
    Playing time = 4:20, file size = 4.00MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  10. Music Man - 76 Trombones
    Playing time = 2:48, file size = 2.60MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.

There are some pops and crackles here and there that our software would not remove. Nontheless, we found Tom's playing and the sound of this magnificent machine to be top-notch, indeed.

Purchase Recordings Made On Big Bertha

Click here to buy Jelani Eddington's fine CD entitled Stars Fell On Alabama.
For lovers of that incomparable "in-theatre" sound,
this album is a must-have!

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