"New Hampshire’s Jeff Rapsis is considered one of the nation’s top silent film musicians."• April, 2013: Facebook comment from Sandy Conley about upcoming silent film series at Somerville (Mass.) Theatre:
"I've seen some of these "Silent" films when Jeff Rapsis brought them to the Flying Monkey in Plymouth, N.H. Found it hard to believe that so much music was from just one man...but I saw it with my own eyes."• Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013: Blog post on 'The American Spectator' from audience member Aaron Goldstein after a screening of Harold Lloyd's 'Girl Shy' (1924) at the Somerville Theater just outside of Boston, Mass.:
"Accompanying the movie was an organist from New Hampshire named Jeff Rapsis. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a movie with a live organist.• Monday, Feb. 11, 2013: Comments from Rebecca Mitchell, student at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H. enrolled in a film history course taught by director Bill Millios, after seeing 'Metropolis' with live music:
At first, I thought it would be a distraction. But Rapsis was so good I thought his music was part of the original soundtrack. When I told him this after the show he told me that it is what strived for in his performances.
Amazingly, the music is largely improvised. He explained that if he tried to score the movie he was concentrating too much on the notes and not enough on the movie and the audience’s reaction to it."
"And thank you for inviting Jeff Rapsis to come in and play live music for "Metropolis"; I've been interested in learning about the history of silent films, but this was the first time I've ever seen a feature-length silent film and I was completely blown away!• January, 2013: Comments from attendee Greg Swain after a New Year's Eve screening of Fritz Lang's 'Woman in the Moon' at Red River Theatres, Concord, N.H:
I think I was more wrapped up in "Metropolis" than I have ever been with any movie I've seen before; I think the live music really pulled me into the movie and helped draw me into the film's world. Thanks again!"
"Judy and I wanted to thank you for the wonderful evening at Red River last night! That was my first time with a bigger screen and live music. It won't be my last!• July, 2012: Comments from attendee Carol Rugh after the 18th annual convention of the Sons of the Desert, the International Laurel & Hardy Appreciation Society, held Thursday, July 19 through Sunday, July 22 in Manchester, N.H.:
The music added so much to the experience. Thank you for investing the time, energy and last night the sweat to bring us the silents the way they were to be originally enjoyed.
We signed up for the email updates and look forward to seeing you again in the near future!"
"Thank you for your stunning film accompaniment during the Sons convention. I know (because I eavesdropped shamelessly) that everyone who attended was blown away. ... When people asked us how we liked the convention, the first thing we mentioned was the great silent film program with your outstanding accompaniment. It made the convention for us."• June, 2012: A description by Jessica Skwire Routhier of the Saco (Me.) Museum of live accompaniment for the presentation of a 19th century "moving panorama" depicting John Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress':
With Jeff’s alternately rollicking, poetic, crashing, and poignant accompaniment—and with his years of experience accompanying silent film revivals–we brought the Moving Panorama of Pilgrim’s Progress to life again after at least 148 years of silence and stillness.• Monday, March 26, 2012: Write-up from adventure blogger Dan Szczesny, a New Hampshire writer and newspaper colleague who attended screening of 'Noah's Ark' (1928) at Wilton (N.H.) Town Hall Theatre on Sunday, March 25:
"Delivering the silence: Nobody speaks for silent films more loudly than Jeff Rapsis, a local musician who has become something on an institution in New England for delivering live accompaniment to films from the great silent era.• Tuesday, March 20, 2012: Blog comment from "Russ," attendee of Cinefest in Syracuse, N.Y. from Thursday, March 14 through Sunday, March 18, where I was one of the on-duty accompanists:
Either on a piano or synthesizer, Jeff free-styles his way through hours of celluloid breathing new life into classics that haven’t been shown, in some case, for decades. We’ve been friends with Jeff for many years and can attest to his passion for making sure some of the most amazing films ever made are not relegated to the dust bin.
On Sunday at Wilton Town Hall Theatre, Jeff was at it again, playing for “Noah’s Ark” a spectacular 1928 epic. If your only experience with silent film is late-night cable, or even TNT Network, do yourself a big favor and attend one of Jeff’s events, many of which are free. There is nothing like live music played well at a silent film event. It will make you fall in love again with the movies."
"You did a great job all weekend. I thought about how hard it must have been to play for the Tillie short. That was REALLY all over the place.• Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012: Nice note from Scott Norwood, film programmer for the 2012 Arisia Science Fiction/Fantasy Convention in Boston, Mass., where Keaton's 'The General' (1927) was screened:
A friend of mine from work came to The Palace on Saturday. She likes older films, but didn't think she would like silents. You helped change her mind with Get Your Man. In addition to enjoyiing the film and your music she was very impressed when she found that you frequently are seeing the film for the first time.
Thanks for all your work this weekend! I hope you play for Cinefest again next year."
"...I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your performance for this year's silent film screening of 'The General.' ... I can honestly say that your performance on Friday was the best that we have had so far for these screenings. We received many positive compliments over the weekend from people who attended the show. Thank you again for your time and for being so easy to work with in the months prior to the screening."• Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011: Here's a nice Q & A article about silent film in The Bedford (N.H.) Journal, a community weekly newspaper in my hometown.
Excerpt from the intro: "Rapsis recently took time away from his 88-key digital synthesizer to answer our questions about his composing process, his favorite performance venue and whether silent films are still relevant in today’s technology-infused world.• Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011: Many thanks to Virginia Prescott and the crew at Word of Mouth, a daily interview show on New Hampshire Public Radio, for inviting me in for this live segment on silent film scoring. Here's an excerpt from their intro:
"Scores for silent films were created live – and the showing at Red River Theatre is no different. Enter Jeff Rapsis– when he isn’t working at The Hippo, he’s recreating orchestral scores for silent classics. He’ll be providing the score for Metropolis as it rings in the New Year."• Friday, Aug. 5, 2011: The folks at WBUR-FM, Boston's big National Public Radio station, were kind enough to put together this on-air segment on silent film scoring in advance of a screening of 'Steamboat Bill Jr.' (1928) at the Somerville Theatre in Somerville, Mass.
• Sunday, July 10, 2011: Review by Jay Seaver, efilmcritic.com, after a screening of a Buster Keaton program featuring 'Seven Chances' (1925) at the Somerville Theatre in Somerville, Mass.:
"Good musical accompaniment helps, too - at this particular screening, accompanist Jeff Rapsis manages to twist the traditional bridal march into chase music, interspersing it with a separate theme for perhaps the greatest rocks in cinematic history."(Full review is here on efilmcritic.com.)
• Sunday, June 19, 2011: Comments by audience member Kevin Thornton following a screening of a Buster Keaton's 'The General' (1926) in Brandon, Vt.:
"I want to thank you for a fantastic entertainment experience Saturday night. That was a great film. I was amazed at the stunt work, and, though I've read about Keaton's "dead-pan delivery" many times, I never before understood why he was funny. ...I'm equally impressed by your ability to match the music you're playing to the action onscreen - and to keep it up for more than an hour. There can't be very many skilled practitioners out there of your particular art. It must have gratified you to see the crowd. Word-of-mouth has been very strong. You're absolutely right about the importance of music to these films (beyond the tinkly piano that always accompanies silent film clips in documentaries), and the importance of watching them with a crowd. Going to one of your performances is the next best thing to a time machine; in addition to the entertainment there's a thrill in rediscovering a long-lost experience no one knows about any more. The Twitter crowd doesn't know what they're missing. I look forward to seeing you again next month."• Saturday, June 18, 2011: Comments by British traveler Simon Crabtree following a screening of a Buster Keaton's 'The General' (1926) in Brandon, Vt.:
It was a great atmosphere - the hall was full and everyone laughed out loud or cheered in response to the film. I could now understand why Gary had been so keen that we attend - we enjoyed it way more than we'd hoped we would. But the most impressive part was the soundtrack - as the opening credits rolled the orchestral score burst into life and I had to keep reminding myself that the music was being created live by one man at the front of the hall. And I'd expected it to be a kind of Keystone Cops jangly-piano thing, but it was a much more modern film score that wouldn't have sounded out of place alongside a contemporary thriller, and the guy just kept playing for the duration of the film - I'd have been exhausted after 5 minutes! At the end, Gary and Nancy took us up to the front to introduce us to the one-man orchestra and we promised to send more people over from England for next month's screening.
• Friday, June 17, 2011: Vermont Public Radio's Nina Keck produced a radio piece about silent film music featuring comments and music illustrations by me. Listen to it (or read a transcript) at the Vermont Public Radio Web site.
• Sunday, June 5, 2011: Review by Jay Seaver, efilmcritic.com, after a screening of a Buster Keaton program at the Somerville Theatre in Somerville, Mass.:
"He was really impressive tonight - his music for the prologue to 'Our Hospitality' was especially terrific, and I'm sure my musical brothers will tell me that playing to fast-paced movies for two hours straight (no break between films), at least partly improvising, is difficult, and he did an excellent job."(Full review is on Jay's movie blog.)
• Sunday, March 27, 2011: From audience member Pat Caisse following screening of 'The Mark of Zorro' (1920) at the Wilton (N.H.) Town Hall Theatre:
"I really enjoyed last Sunday's silent film at the Wilton Theater. Lloyd and Zorro had me laughing myself silly. I was wondering if they had stunt men back then. I got a kick out of Fairbanks' agility. You also have great stamina to be able to play for 2 1/2 hours. The whole time was great entertainment. It was nice to see so many people attending. I wonder how many people went home to Plazma TV. Put me on your mailing list please. Good wholesome entertainment is hard to find these days."• Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011: By Blogger "Rhiannonstone" about '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' (1916) at the 36th Annual Boston Sci-Fi Marathon at the Somerville Theater, Somerville, Mass.:
"It was a terrible, terrible movie with a crappy non-linear plot, awful dialogue...and the live, improvised musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis was nothing short of amazing."And posted by "LA Connection" on the Science Fiction Message Board:
"Having been to all the silent films at the Marathon with live music, I must add that Jeff Rapsis' accompaniment was the finest and most apropos of them all. Yes, they've all been good and highlights of their respective 'thons...but Mr.Rapsis really nailed it!" (And on another board) "I liked this as a silent film more than some in Boston, but there is no doubt that as an experience with live music it was a treat. And, we got a very good accompanist (Jeff Rapsis). Much would depend on who was hired to do the music."• February, 2011: Featured in New Hampshire Magazine.
• Wednesday, June 23, 2010: By editor Lee J. Kahrs in The Reporter of Brandon, Vt., after a screening of 'When Lincoln Paid' (1913) at Brandon Town Hall:
"The screening was thoroughly enhanced by the live accompaniment of keyboardist Jeff Rapsis, who plays piano behind silent films all over New England."• June 2010: Selected posts on the Wilton Town Hall Theatre's Facebook Wall.
"Rapsis was so good, in fact, that this reporter did not realize during the start of the film that the music being heard was live and not in the film."
" 'Without an audience, the energy that was intended in these films is lost,' Rapsis said in his remarks afterwards. 'And everyone here collectively brought this film to life.' "
"Fantastic venue and Jeff does a great job with the silent classics. Glad to have such a treasure to call our own."
"love the wilton town hall theater.. especially the sunday free silent movies that come at the end of every month. Me and my now husband would come while we were courting as our special monthly anniversary, and it's a great time!"
"I highly recommend the silent movie series with live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis. Whenever it's a comedy I try to get there with my 10 yr. old son. It's magical to look over and see him bustin' a gut laughing at 90 year old sight gags!"
"Silent Sunday is the best! Had a great time with Buster Keaton yesterday! Thanks for doing it!"• Monday, May 24, 2010: Comment from student at Great Brook School, Antrim, N.H., on silent film screening at Antrim Town Hall for the school's Extended Learning Program:
"He played the piano so well, I forgot he was there."• Tuesday, April 20, 2010: Comment from Larry Benaquist, professor of film at Keene (N.H.) State College, on music played at the premiere of his restoration of 'When Lincoln Paid' (1913):
"Jeff Rapsis did an amazing job with live accompaniment. The music quadrupled the emotional impact of the movie."• Friday, April 2, 2010: Blog comment from Bill Millios, independent filmmmaker and director of 'Dangerous Crosswinds' (2005), scored by Jeff Rapsis:
"Jeff’s approach is that he just doesn’t want to ’score a film’; instead he’s relentless in creating music that integrates so completely with a film’s plot that the two become inseparable. His enthusiasm towards creative projects is contagious..."• Monday, Feb. 15, 2010: Comment on Wilton Town Hall Theatre silent film screenings posted on yelp.com:
"It's hard to beat the last Sunday of the month free silent movies. Jeff Rapsis of the HippoPress improvises live music to accompany the film."• Monday, Feb. 1, 2010: Blog post from Dave Eisenstadter following a Douglas Fairbanks double feature in Wilton, N.H.:
"Even though the admission is technically free, don't be a piker. Put a donation in the jar and buy some popcorn at the concession stand. At $3 for a large bucket, it's still a deal."
"A double-feature silent movie with live music accompaniment filled the house at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre yesterday. I hadn't heard much about the star of the films, Douglas Fairbanks, except that he was the first ever "action star" of the movies.• October 2009: Rick Broussard, editor of New Hampshire Magazine:
"Seeing a silent film in a theater with a full house and live music is really a unique experience, and a wonderful one. Jeff Rapsis, who works for the Manchester Hippo, comes up with the music off of the top of his head with minimal preparation, and yesterday he played for about two-and-a-half hours. The music enhances the show by adding suspense, comedy, drama, any emotion you can think of. Seeing him in action, I would mourn the loss of such theater musicians, except we have one in our midst."
"After seeing two silent films (with live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis), I'm convinced this is an art form made for the 21st century. ... There's something about the pacing and flow of the silents that, combined with a live audience and an improvisational scoring, distinguishes it from anything else. It's kind of like steampunk cyborg art, half human, half machine but the machine part is sheathed in copper with leather bellows."• October 2009: Noted film film archivist and expert Bruce Lawton after attending four-day 'Mirthquake' silent comedy film festival:
"This guy is quite simply amazing. He can play the pants off ANY film - or series of films - whether he's seen them before or not. His musicianship is peerless. I witnessed him doing his stuff for several days at Mirthquake this year....I can not recommend him highly enough - and do so without reservation."• Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009: Blog post following a screening of 'The Kid' in Wilton, N.H.:
"On Sunday we saw Charlie Chaplin's The Kid at the Wilton Town Hall Theater WITH a live piano player (Jeff Rapsis). It was awesome. The show was put on as a part of the Mirthquake Festival, a truly unique event that should not be missed.• June 30, 2009: Named one of the "Top 10 Monadnock Region Attractions" by the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, Peterborough, N.H.
"First of all, the Wilton Town Hall Theater is amazing. It was built in 1886 for travelling shows and vaudeville performances. In 1912 it was converted into a silent movie house. There are two theaters, a smaller theater and a larger theater. The Kid was playing in the larger of the two theaters, which features: old wooden floors, large comfy seats, a stage and curtains that open to reveal the movie screen - red curtains - sweet! It's absolutely perfect. In this setting, they played 2 shorts from the 1920s followed by The Kid (1921). The music was perfect, Jeff Rapsis did an amazing job. It blended with the movie so perfectly that I forgot there was someone playing live! I was completely engrossed in the story.
"I went to this movie thinking it would be fun in an historical, novel kind of way - but instead it was surprising and amazing and funny. The Kid is the first film to combine drama and comedy. Apparently comedians were not expected to make full length films, so at first, comedy was limited to shorts. Charlie Chaplin changed that; by creating and directing the Kid, he became the first comedian to release a full length feature film. The complexity of the story he told, with no sound and no color, is simply amazing. It speaks to his intelligence and ability. The interactions between Chaplin and The Kid (who later goes on to play Uncle Fester in the Addams Family) are both funny and touching. This movie is so good, that I would go see it again."
"Featured in New Hampshire Magazine, the Wilton Town Hall Theater is one of New Hampshire's best movie theaters, but in addition to the great atmosphere, the time-transporting experience of viewing a silent film accompanied by live music puts the 'class' in 'classic film.'• Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009: Blog post from audience member Mark Mallett following a screening of 'Way Down East' in Wilton, N.H.:
"Jeff Rapsis of the Hippo Press in Manchester plays music on his keyboard to bring the silent films to people the way they were meant to be experienced...in a theater with live accompaniment. Rapsis plays to accentuate funny falls, exciting chases, and tender romances.
"Among the best things about the films, which are played at 4:30 p.m. the last Sunday of every month, is that they are free, supported only by donations."
"...seeing a good quality silent film with live original music in a theater full of fans is a real treat. I saw this one at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre in Wilton, NH, as part of their monthly Sunday Silent Classics series. Live original music is composed and performed by Jeff Rapsis, who is greatly responsible for the series. It was a long movie, but the audience was with it all the way: hissing the bad guy and cheering for the good people.
"...This movie is mostly famous for its ice floe sequence near the ending (filmed in and around White River Junction, VT, and perhaps in parts of NH). ... Rapsis’ music really shone during this sequence, building up an excitement that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.
A thoroughly enjoyable film, and well worth the wait (for me) to have seen it presented in this way. Those who aren’t comfortable with or adapted to seeing silent films might be a bit put off by the style (and even for an old silent film, the style is a bit strident) – but don’t let that stop you."