Lee Orville Erwin, Jr.

 Organist and Composer

Born:July 15, 1908, Huntsville, AL
Died:Sept. 21, 2000, Greenwich Village


•  Orville Erwin is included on Record's list of "Madison Countians of Distinction" with the following notation: Assistant Organist, American Cathedral of Paris. - Record

•  Son of Leeroy Orville Erwin, Sr. (known as "Lee") born about 1881 (ancestry.com says about 1877) in Georgia and Mary Eestella Shaver Erwin born about 1884 in New York and died in Huntsville, AL June 3, 1938 (Buried in Maple Hill Cemetery) - Hix

•  Siblings:
Thelma May Erwin Castator (born 20 April 1911, died 11 March 1988)
Sara (Sally) Elizabeth Erwin Hix (born 25 November 1914)
Chas Alfred Erwin (born 13 June 1917, died 16 March 1918)
Mary Leone Erwin Edwards (born 26 November 1920)
Joseph (Joe) Arthur Erwin (born 13 January 1923). - Hix

•  His father was the founder of the Erwin Manufacturing Company and the Textile Harwood Manufacturing Company. - Hix

•  His mother was an organist in a small church when he was young, and later they attended First United Methodist Church of Huntsville. But Orville's great love was theater music. And Huntsville's Lyric Theatre was equipped with a Style L. Wurlitzer Pipe Organ-Orchestra. - Hix

•  Studied piano under Huntsville's Bessie Pettus and later studied at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music - Hix

•  Amazon's book description: "From 1930 until 1931 Erwin studied in France with organist André Marchal and the harmony teachers Jean Verd and Nadia Boulanger. This formative experience greatly shaped his compositional style and aesthetic. Upon returning to the United States, Erwin began his lengthy career in radio and television working with Arthur Godfrey. In 1967, Erwin was commissioned by the American Theater Organ Society to compose organ music for the Gloria Swanson film Queen Kelly. It was this film that led his career back into the consoles of the great American theater organs. He toured extensively, playing thousands of concerts of organ music during silent film showings. He thus ushered in the silent film revival, continuing the genre of live music performance accompanying film. Erwin, believing that cue sheets originally compiled for these films during the silent film era were 'full of the musical cliché's of the 1920s,' composed new scores to over 100 silent films." - Amazon

Related Links:

•  Amazon - Book by Michael Hix titled : An American Organist in Paris: The Letters of Lee Orville Erwin, 1930-1931, © 2012.

•  Ancestry.com - 1930 Census (information behind membership fee wall)

•  Hix - Master's Thesis by Dr. Michael Thomas Hix titled "The Lee Erwin Collection: The Music of Silent Film Composer and Theater Organist Lee Erwin." degree awarded in 2003. Photo (Originally found at http://etd.lib.fsu.edu/theses/available/etd-11152003-162611/unrestricted/HIXFinalThesis.pdf.)

•  NPR - Audio segment with music and tributes when he died.

•  NYTimes - Obituary by Allan Kozinn (September 26, 2000)

•  Record - A Dream Come True: The Story of Madison County and Incidentally of Alabama and the United States, Volume 2, by James Record, © 1978, p. 670.

•  YouTube - Thief of Bagdad performance by Lee Erwin (uploaded by incrediblecHiller on September 2, 2007)

The Following Pages Link to this Page:
•  Record