Silent Films Make Roaring Return With Help From Younger Audiences

Steve Sterner’s job as a pianist playing music for silent movies started on a whim about four decades ago.

He was at a friend’s party and decided to tinkle the ivories while a silent cartoon played. Impressed with the performance, his friend, who worked at the Thalia, a now-closed theater on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, invited him to play along to a full-length feature silent film at the theater.

This fall, Mr. Sterner, 67 years old, is celebrating his 35th anniversary as a piano…

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