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2010 Event Media Release - The Wizard of Oz

Media Release: Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Early version of The Wizard of Oz rescored by Australia’s queen of boogie woogie piano

19 September

"Jan Preston is a crusader of the keys...she carries the torch for the piano culture." The Age

Australia’s queen of the boogie woogie piano Jan Preston will be joined by two musicians to perform a new score to Larry Semon’s 1925 version of The Wizard of Oz.

Rarely seen, the first feature-length adaptation of Baum’s classic story features Dorothy Dwan and a younger Oliver Hardy, pre-dating the Judy Garland version by 14 years.

Accompanied by violinist Phil Hartl and Mark Holder-Keeping (clarinet, saxophone and percussion), Preston’s score is driven not only by the emotive and dramatic storyline but also Sermon’s Keaton-like ability to inspire sympathy and humour at the same time.

The rhythm of his mime and dancing is reflected in the music. Stretched to its sonic and harmonic limit during the extraordinary storm sequence, this is realized by the use of the piano as a large zither, together with high violin and primitive wind machine.

At other times the music is formal and melodic, but always with a hint of both comedy and pathos.  

Jan Preston grew up surrounded by the sounds of old-time piano music and has been creating music for film since 1977. A composer, pianist, singer and songwriter, her theme music to Australian Story can be heard nationally on ABC Television each week.

Preston composed and performed the music for the classic German silent film Fritz Laing’s The Spy, which was recorded for the National Film and Sound Archive and broadcast on television. She was also employed by Jane Campion as her piano teacher in the lead up to making the 1993 film, The Piano.

The screening will be introduced by Jay Katz (Jaimie Leonarder) from The Mu Meson Archives who will put the film in its cultural context.

The next Screen Live event will be Brilliant Journeys on Sunday, October 15.

For more information on this series please visit 

Date & Time: Sunday 19 September at 5pm
Venue: Playhouse              
Tickets: From $25 or $20 concession
Bookings: 02 9250 7777 or

Nathan McIlroy, Senior Publicist, Sydney Opera House
02 9250 7596 / 0434 146 121 

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