Rosa Rio, Tampa Theatre, May 2006
Edna: Have any of you ever heard of Miss Rosa Rio? She was one of the last of the silent-film organists; back before the "talkies," movies would have musical accompaniment from someone playing a piano or organ, depending on how grand the theater was. When I was a girl I thought that would be a fun profession, until I realized that all my attention would have to be on the music and not on the movie. That changed my mind right quick.
Miss Rio's musical career spanned 97 years. My lands, can you imagine that? She started out as a child musician, then went on to become a theater organist before eventually working in radio and television (including playing the background music on soap operas like As The World Turns). She was also a music teacher, but by 1993 she was living in Tampa, Florida and was once again playing the organ for silent film screenings at the Tampa Theatre.
Sadly, she died not too long ago at the age of 107. Her last performance at the Tampa Theatre was in August of 2009. Below, you can watch a clip from 2005 of one of Rosa's concerts. How wonderful it must have been to hear her play in person! If I'm lucky enough to be that spry at 103 years old, then I will count my blessings.
The Washington Post