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The Theater Tuschinski in Amsterdam is the Netherlands' most beautiful cinema and one of the greatest ever erected.
This Art Deco style movie palace was the crowning achievement of Abraham Tuschinski. A self-taught Jewish tailor from Poland, Tuschinski was on his way to America in the early-1900’s, when he was waylaid in Rotterdam and ended up building a movie theatre enterprise in Holland instead.
Built in 1921, the Theater Tuschinksi was erected based on the designs of architect H.L. DeJong, with interior decor by Pieter den Besten and Jaap Gidding. The exterior is a cross between Art Deco and Gothic style architecture. The Teater Tuschinski was opened on 28th October 1921, with an original seating capacity for 2,000, on orchestra, balcony, and upper circle levels.
It has two very striking towers flanking the front entrance which in turn has two rather Gothic style lamps. The main foyer is executed in the Art Deco style in rich reds and golds – with its paintings of paradise birds and peacocks, its plush and colourful carpet hand-woven in Morocco, and its bar of bronze and marble.
The elaborate main auditorium is no less breathtaking earning the theatre the nicknames of ‘plum cake’ or ‘dowager bonbon box’. The building also boasted not only a great movie hall, but a cabaret-dinner club named "La Gaité", a Japanese tea room, a Moorish suite, and elegant foyers. A smaller auditoria has since been created from these rooms. The Theater Tuschinski was equipped with a small Wurlitzer organ, which was originally installed in the Cinema de la Monnaie in Brussels, Belgium, which was opened by organist Pierre Palla. This was replaced in 1923 by a 2 Manual 6 Ranks Wurlitzer model 160. In 1940 it was rebuilt by the Strunk organ company and a new 4 Manual console was added, and the Ranks increased to 10. This instrument was opened by Cor Steijn.
After the German occupation of Holland in 1940, it was re-named Tivoli Theatre, and began screening German made Nazi anti-antisemitic films. Abraham Tuschinski, and most of his family and other directors of the theater were deported to Auschwitz in July 1942, never to return.
On 29th July 1945 the name Tuschinski was back on the facade. It was the most popular cinema in Amsterdam, and the stage was brought into use for concerts starring Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Edith Piaf, Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Domino and Dionne Warwick. In 1969, the resident 16-piece orchestra was disbanded, and in 1974, the Wurlitzer/Strunk organ ceased to be a part of the regular programming. It was used in 1996 for the theater’s 75th Anniversary, accompanying screenings of silent films.
In 1986, the former Noggerath Bioscope Theatre almost next door, which opened in 1906, and had for many years been operating as an adult cinema, was renovated and converted into screen 3 of the Tuschinski.
In 2001-2002, Amsterdam’s monumental theater underwent a painstaking restoration project.
The historic auditorium ‘Grote Zaal’ currently seats 784. There is a classic film series which has a monthly slot in the programming. An additional five screens, ranging from 105 to 191 seats, are located in an adjacent building.
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