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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » A » Antheil, George



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George Antheil (7/08/1900 - 2/12/1959)

In 1923, Antheil moved to Paris where he entered into the center of the artistic avant-garde. James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Man Ray, Léger, Satie, Picasso and many others were to become his friends and colleagues. On 4 October 1923 Antheil made his public début in Paris, at the Champs Elysées Theatre, and as a result of the ensuing riot, achieved his goal and was solidly established as the enfant terrible du jour.

In 1926, Antheil premièred the work that was to become the zenith and nadir of his career, Ballet Mécanique. Notorious for its orchestra of pianos, percussion, electric buzzers and airplane propellers, with Ballet he had reached the end of an important period in his musical development. The Piano Concertoof 1926 was one of his first large-scale essays in his new ‘neo-classic’ style, and when given its first performance in Paris in 1927 it signaled the halt of Antheil’s popularity. Later that same year, the disastrous American première of Ballet Mécanique left him financially and emotionally bankrupt. The deliberately sensationalist and provocative promotion that preceded the concert alienated his audience and marred his reputation in America well into the 1940s.

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