Ena Baga

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Ena Baga (5 January 1906 – 15 July 2004) was a British pianist and theatre organist. She is best known for improvising accompaniments to silent films, both in the 1920s and during the revival of interest in silent films that began in the 1970s.


Early years

Rosina Baga was born at Clerkenwell in 1906, to an Italian father, Constantine, and an Irish mother, Charlotte. Her father conducted a cinema orchestra for silent films. After the family moved to Southend, 12-year old Rosina began playing organ for the Roman Catholic Church.


In the 1920s, when silent film theatres began replacing orchestras with one organist playing a theatre organ (as a cost-cutting measure), Baga became an organist for silent films, improvising music that dramatized the emotions or actions depicted in the film. In 1928, when "talking pictures" arrived, she provided music for the intermission between the opening "B-movie" and the feature movie.

Baga also did other musical jobs, such as accompanying music hall performers on a small Wurlitzer organ. In 1932 she was invited to Balmoral, where she improvised music for Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush for George V and Queen Mary. From 1940 to 1945, she replaced Reginald Dixon as the organist of the Tower Ballroom.


After the war, the great pipe organs in theatres and cinemas were seldom used. In some theatres, the organs were removed to make room for bigger Cinemascope screens. From 1957 to 1962...
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