Lonesome: A Performance by Chad Serhal

Lonesome: A Performance by Chad Serhal


  • June 23, 2018 at 8:00pm
  • CSPS Hall
  • $10

Ninety years ago this month, the Hungarian-born director Paul Fejos released one of the most storied works in Hollywood history. Solitude was inspired by a newspaper article exploring loneliness in modern society. Glenn Tryon and Barbara Kent play New Yorkers who live in adjoining apartments but have never met. They meet by chance at Coney Island and begin a romance, then lose each other, only to be reunited at their apartment building. Hand-tinted, the film was notable for its striking cinematography. Then, responding to the success of The Jazz Singer, released just months earlier, and after production was finished, three "talkie" scenes were added to the film, including a full musical number. The title was changed from Solitude to Lonesome. Although the film was a popular and critical hit, Fejos was unhappy with the changes, and spent the remainder of his career in Europe.

In 2018, Chad Serhal has entirely reimagined Fejos’ film. He’s brought it closer to the director’s original intent by removing the added scenes, deleting the sound, and changing the ending. More radically, he’s added a new, abstract score, which he performs live on musical saw, auto harp, electric guitar, synthesizer, accordion, and effects pedals. The new score emphasizes the moods and tones of “one of the most beautiful movies ever made,” Serhal says. “It’s about love and loneliness in the big city.  It’s about the insecurity of wondering who you are and what the future holds.  It’s about the fear of aging and dying alone. That feeling of solitude, while surrounded by people, is just as potent today as it was 90 years ago.”

Originally from Indiana, Chad Serhal is an artist and musician. He’s served as program coordinator at CSPS Hall from 2016 through this summer, when he will be returning to graduate school.

This clip contains the original score.