Under the choreographic direction of Meryl Tankard, the Zurich Ballet presents a new version of Ballet mécanique, entitled “For Hedy.” The performance is scored to music by George Antheil, arranged for piano and 64-channel electronics by Paul Lehrman and Guy Livingston; and performed by Guy Livingston at the piano.
Nine performances of “Timekeepers” at the Zurich Opera House as follows: 20, 21, 26 January 2, 4, 9, 17, 18, 23 February programme: For Hedy, Les Noces, Rhapsody in Blue
Timekeepers The «golden» 1920s have gone down in history as a time of ecstatic cultural and technological advancements. This production, entitled Timekeepers, brings three works from that decade that prominently feature piano, all premiered a century ago. The evening will also see three female choreographers from three different generations. The world premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s Les Noces, which took place in 1923 with the Ballets Russes in Paris, rewrote music and ballet history. Stravinsky paired a mixed choir with a lineup of four pianos and a percussion ensemble for this dance cantata, which retraces the course of a traditional wedding ceremony. Choreographer Bronislava Nijinska, the sister of Vaslav Nijinsky, accentuated the neoclassical angularity of Stravinsky’s music with constructivist groupings of dancers, pyramid-like setups, and hard, angular, stomping movements. With Nijinska’s legendary Les Noces choreography, the Ballett Zürich dances a key work of the 20th century.
In the audience of Les Noces in Paris was a young American, whose extravagant lifestyle and rhythmically driven, mechanically-controlled music soon earned him the title of a «Bad Boy of Music»: George Antheil. His most famous work is the Ballet mécanique, which he revised several times. Its first version was intended to be music for a surrealist-Dadaist film by Fernand Léger. Meryl Tankard makes her debut with the Ballett Zürich. Australia’s best-known choreographer will bring the piece to the stage in a version for piano and loudspeakers under the title For Hedy. Meryl Tankard began her career dancing with the Australian Ballet and with the im Tanztheater Wuppertal under Pina Bausch. She has since made an international name for herself between the worlds of classic and modern dance.
When he premiered Rhapsody in Blue in 1924, George Gershwin wanted to give Americans their own musical identity and, with the help of music, overcome ethnic and cultural barriers. One hundred years later, the young South African choreographer Mthuthuzeli November explores Gershwin’s «musical kaleidoscope of America» in Rhapsodies. Mthuthuzeli November currently lives in London, and is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, including the Lawrence Olivier Award, for his creations. Mthuthuzeli November has long been more than an insider tip in Great Britain, and this marks his first collaboration with the Ballett Zürich
the story of the invention – a collaborative effort between actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil
Much to my astonishment, I have become briefly (and marginally) famous for my role (miniscule) in a film about Hollywood beauty Hedy Lamarr. Not only was she the sexiest woman on screen in the 1940s and 50s, but she also was an inventor, and worked with my favorite composer, George Antheil, on a patent for a “secret communications device”. Although nothing came of their brilliant invention, it turned out to be a stunning preview of frequency hopping, a technique which is used in wifi and cell phones, and makes our current world possible. The film about Hedy, called “Bombshell” is now available on Netflix – enjoy it, and look out for my cameo, talking about…torpedoes!
The latest development in this story is that choreographer Meryl Tankard has crafted a marvelous and high-energy dance for the Zurich Ballet (premiere January 20, 2024 at the Zurich Opera). Here are some rehearsal photos:
Film Poster “Bombshell”Hedy graphic novelHedy and George Antheil
Serpent mécanique, by George Antheil. Performed by Guy Livingston, Stéphane Leach, and Philippe Keler. Fazioli concert grand piano courtesy of Joël Perrot.Böski and George Antheil (Berlin, 1929)Guy Livingston performs the “Tango” from the opera Transatlantic.
Liner Notes for Antheil the Futurist
In 1920, a brash young composer from New Jersey named George Antheil
decided to be the “most ultra” of the avant-garde, quarreled with his teachers,
and transformed himself into a concert pianist. His cousin Robert Antheil
remembered many years later:
The CD as released (order on Amazon.com)
that time George was getting ready for his trip to Europe and was practicing
all day long. The keys on the piano were worn through the ivory and down into
the wood. He attacked the piano fiercely. When his fingers got very sore he
plunged them into two fish bowls full of salted water. The idea was to toughen
the fingers for further stress. After eighty years I can still remember the
phrase that he repeated time after time all day long: ‘dum dady ata dady ata
dum dum dum’.”
Once he perfected his technique, George planned to conquer the concert
halls of Europe. Profiting from the post-war situation, many North American
artists were touring inflation-plagued Germany, Austria and Hungary, exchanging
dollars for good reviews in famous halls and state operas. Thanks to an
investment by his patron Mrs. Curtis Bok of more than $6000, Antheil traveled
with his manager Martin H. Hanson to London for his debut, and then to Germany,
where he set up headquarters in Berlin from July 1922 to June 1923.
“My July 1922 arrival in Berlin remains one of the greatest impressions of my entire life. Gone were the gay blue, red and green uniformed soldiers. Gone were the boisterous happy, prosperous, tumultuous days – Berlin was in grey slow-motion.
The summer passed uneventfully except in that I now spent long hours at my piano fighting it as a prize fighter punches his training bag.
Meanwhile all Berlin around me disintegrated into bankruptcy. The mark flew to pieces and money became the sign of a sign. My success in London earned me several additional concerts at the celebrated seaside resorts nearby, in Holland and Belgium, in Prague and Zurich. Success followed success […] it was not long before I discovered that I was earning money faster than I could spend it. One day I bought myself a whole stack of modern paintings – these consisted of two Marcoussis, one Braque, one Picasso, three Dungerts, two Bobermans, two Kubins, one Leger.
I indulged myself in other buying sprees, discovered three young painters, whom I believed had talent, and promptly became a patron of the arts. I subsidized all those painters, their wives and mistresses, visited them every day to see how they were getting along.
My apartment filled itself with celebrities and others of whom I occasionally lost track. My apparent wealth began now to attract attention. A whole ballet and its manager escaped from Russia – the manager attempted to prevail upon me to manipulate M.H. Hanson into booking them for America. “M.H.”, however, declined. The manager then pursued me. He then set his ballerinas upon me. Too many persons, however, were now after my financial favors to allow me to devote myself to anyone person exclusively. […]
I avoided these attractive and adventurous possibilities – not without several tugs at my heart. Once, however, and in a tentative mood, I bought myself a fine automatic revolver, and had my tailor fashion a most snug little silken holster to go right under my armpit – I had gotten the idea in reading about Chicago gangsters. Although I never went to Russia I now never went anywhere without being fully armed.
Meanwhile my concert season had begun. M. H. Hanson, feeling that the past three months in Berlin had given me the polish necessary to a budding world-shaking concert pianist, had “booked” me rather solidly from January 1923 onwards. I was to play a number of preliminary concerts in Munich, Dresden, Leipzig, Frankfurt and other fairly nearby but very critical cities.”
In addition to his adventures into Berlin nightlife, Antheil quickly met
many key intellectuals, such as Herwarth Walden of the Galerie Der Sturm,
the young critic Hans Heinz von Stuckenschmidt, who hailed him as a genius, and
Böski Markus, a young Hungarian student who would become his wife. He became a
member of the Novembergruppe, where he met Wladimir Vogel, Stefan Wolpe,
Hanns Eisler and Kurt Weill, and absorbed the ideas of the Neue Sachlichkeit.
And, to crown a period of exciting discoveries and new perspectives, he was
lucky enough to catch the interest of his musical idol, Igor Stravinsky, whose
daring rhythms and poly-harmonies had already inspired several of Antheil’s
compositions. The budding composer began to write and publish manifestos.
Antheil’s childhood had given him a good background for living in
Berlin. Born in Trenton, New Jersey, he was raised in a Lutheran household,
speaking German at home. His parents were from Rhineland and Western Prussia,
and baptized him Georg Karl Johann Antheil at his birth in 1900. At the age of
11, he made an extensive summer trip to Germany with his family. Back in the
United States, he dropped out of high school to study with the eminent
Constantin von Sternberg, remaining under the wing of a strict Germanic
teaching method, even when he turned to Ernest Bloch for a more modern approach
to composition. At ease with the language and the culture, he arrived in
Germany in 1922 well-prepared to dazzle Europe with his daring compositions and
bold pianism. Most of his “futuristic” piano music was composed in Berlin in
just one year.
He had already established his own style in compositions that display a
toccata-like percussive and anti-emotional music, and a clear parodic humor, as
in Valse Profane with an Introduction of Fireworks. The waltz has
a cubist structure and Satiesque instructions such as “over-sentimental
exaggerated” and “with mock coyness”. Ostinato patterns and pedal points
animate a structure which becomes more and more mosaic-like, a feature it has
in common with the Golden Bird, after Brancusi, whose original
title, The Chinese Magician, betrays its inspiration in Leo Ornstein’s A
la chinoise (1916).
Antheil’s incessant retitling of his compositions is illustrated by the Four
Hand Suite. Many
of the fourteen movements appear in other manuscripts, such as One Violin Lesson
for Two Pianists which is not only the Little Overture of the Three
Little Pieces (1922) but a theme of his Piano Concerto No. 1.
Antheil turned the 9th movement into the Habañera for Virgil
Thomson (1925). Meanwhile Galop for Horatio Alger was re-arranged as the
Presto of Symphony for Five
Instruments (1923). The four-hand pieces are pure fun: playful, witty, and
burlesque, and are related to his Kinderblätter
suite, which he performed in 1923
in Berlin, though now lost. Antheil seems to have revised the Galop in 1939,
re-working the refrain to quote “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf”, the 1933
Walt Disney hit.
In 1923 Antheil was impelled to find something more interesting, more
daring, more futuristic. Composer Leo Ornstein had already enraged European
audiences, and pianist Henry Cowell was touring Germany playing ƒƒƒƒ clusters
and complex rhythms. It was time for Antheil to create a new and radical
musical style. “The
chief and most important effect of this postwar Berlin upon me was to houseclean
out of me all of the remaining old poesy, false sentimentality, and overjuicy
overidyllicism,” he declared.
The Airplane Sonata was the first of a new group of piano pieces written
in a cold, mechanistic style: multimetric textures, an inflexible eighth-note pulse despite constantly
changing meters, a propulsive, forward-driving energy. This new style merged ragtime with mechanical frenzy, as already
attempted by the Italian futurists, and later to be adopted by many composers
in the Twenties. The
Airplane Sonata is constructed out of
rhythmically-activated musical blocks: his notorious “time-space”
components, with which he intended to revolutionize music. The two movements
are organized around a repeated E which is not intended as a functional tonality,
but is rather a Duchamp-like objet (sonore) trouvé. In contrast with Leo
Ornstein’s Suicide in an Airplane, Antheil has a different feeling for
the new technology: not terror but progress. In this sonata, and in the others
composed around 1923, Antheil goes further into a new musical landscape. His
techniques: inconsequential development, avoidance of sonata-form,
juxtaposition of unrelated rhythms and materials, divorcing metric structures
from melodic constructions, presenting two interlocking but independent
ostinato patterns a minor second apart that start together but gradually go out
of phase many years before Györgi Ligeti’s minimalism. This is precisely what
Antheil himself described as a “fourth dimension” in music, a term he got from
his pseudo-scientific understanding of current philosophical or pictorial
of the future find our sense of organization from Picasso rather than Beethoven
or Stravinsky […] we should find our sense of forms and time-spaces molded by
months and months of studying the sculptures of Brancusi or Lipchitz”, he
declared in one of his Berlin manifestos.
Antheil transformed his earlier Second Sonata,Street Sonata (1919/21) into a piano concerto, and re-purposed two earlier pieces,
Snakes and Negroes as movements of the new Sonata Sauvage, finished in January 1923. Capitalizing on the almost
unplayable nature of the 2nd movement, he had a pianola roll punched
with an even more complex version, entitled Mécanique N.1, or Serpent mécanique, here
recorded in a six-hand arrangement (there is no known manuscript). The
player-piano was for Antheil both a source of inspiration and the ideal medium
to realize his frenetic rhythms.
The Third Piano Sonata: “Death of Machines” was premiered in Dresden on January 22nd
and its four movements are light years from the exaltation of progress, so dear
to the Italian and Russian futurists of a decade before. The precise opening
stumbles immediately…the machines are imperfect, vulnerable, dying.
The Jazz Sonata bearsthe indication “As rapidly as it is possible to execute cleanly and with even
touch and dynamics like a player piano.” This virtuoso benchmark for
pianists should be considered a twentieth century response to Chopin’s Minute
Waltz. Less mechanical, more jazzy, its frequency-hopping collage
continually frustrates the listener’s expectations. Piece for Merle and (Little) Shimmy are in the same miniaturist style: off-kilter
interpretations of popular dance forms.
Composed in the spring of 1923, the Sonata
V(or Fifth Piano Sonata) follows the collage technique.
It was dedicated to ethnomusicologist Georg Herzog, a friend who was working at
the Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv where Antheil discovered the rhythms of the
Javanese Gamelan. In addition to multiple parodies – even plagiarism – of
Stravinsky, Antheil plays with popular music, quoting
Denza’s Funiculì, Funiculà.
In 1923, George and Böski moved abruptly to Paris, where he was
immediately hailed as a genius by the literary crowd of the Left Bank. James
Joyce, Sylvia Beach, Ezra Pound, Man Ray, and Ernest Hemingway – all were
fascinated by Antheil. His friendship (but also sometimes his enmity) with the
major figures of the Lost Generation added greatly to his notoriety.
After five years living in France, marked by spectacular successes and
scandalized press, new opportunities arrived from Germany. Through the intervention of Ernst Krenek, Universal Edition
accepted Antheil’s forthcoming opera. Antheil readily moved to Vienna and then
back to Berlin to prepare for the Frankfurt premiere. Abandoning his French
Neoclassicism, he resuscitated his jazzy influences, cheerfully adapting
himself to the publisher’s idea of American music. Manufactured by Antheil to
capitalize on the German Operatic Renaissance and an ephemeral interest in
overseas modernity, Transatlantic
is an operatic supermarket of the Roaring Twenties, depicting a corrupt U.S.
presidential election, complete with oil and sex scandals. The Overture
and Tangoillustrate the atmosphere of the opera – by turns sarcastic
and the Sonatina für Radio werecomposed in 1928.
The latter was premiered by Antheil at a Berlin Radio broadcast on January 4th,
1929, the same day in which his stage music for Oedipus Rex debuted at
the Berliner Stadtstheater. The fact that Antheil had been called in to
substitute for Kurt Weill gives some idea of his stature in Germany at that
But this was the end. Changing politics in Europe and
economic hardships meant that he decided to go back home in 1933, never to return
to Germany. Not quite surprisingly his scores became Entartete Musik by
Despite his two Berlin sojourns, history would link him forever with the French capital. His notorious Ballet mécanique, one of the wildest and
loudest compositions of the twentieth century, connected him with Leger,
Picabia, Picasso, the Dadaists, the Surrealists, and a host of other Parisian
movements and artists, eclipsing his Berlin avant-gardism. Indeed, years later,
writing his autobiography in 1945, he was at pains to minimize his German
roots. It is no surprise, therefore, that his ancestry, his studies with German
teachers, and his relation to the Berlin cultural scene have been overlooked.
But the daring mixture of jazz elements, barbaric percussion, and modernist juxtapositions
that he perfected in 1923 appear to the twenty-first century listener as funny,
as interesting, and as lively as ever.
— Liner notes by Mauro Piccinini
A personal note on the scores
The majority of George Antheil’s piano music was not published in his
lifetime. At his death in 1959, he left a large number of hand-written
manuscript scores to his wife Böski. The sheer volume of material, not to
mention the disorder of the collection, made cataloging and publishing almost
impossible. As a result, much of his music has not been performed in decades,
and some of it has never been played at all.
aren’t you glad we didn’t choose this design for the cover?
His experimental piano music, composed primarily in Berlin, can be heard
together for the first time on this recording thanks to new discoveries and
scholarly research. The most amazing new find is that of Valse Profane
with an Introduction of Fireworks. This piece was previously known only from a tortured
manuscript, entire pages of which had been wildly scribbled out by Antheil. But
unbeknownst to scholars and pianists, Antheil finished the piece, and gave the
unperformed manuscript to Arthur Rubinstein sometime between October 1921 and
March 1922. In October 1939, recognizing the Nazi threat, Rubinstein left with
his family for the United States. His Parisian apartment in Avenue Foch was
confiscated and his collection of books and scores transferred to the Reichssicherheitshauptamt
in Berlin. In 1945 the library collection was moved to the USSR by the
Soviet occupying forces, and there remained in storage, until 1959 when the
materials were returned to Berlin in partial restitution of German cultural
property. Years passed, and seventy-one scores of this library had to wait
until 2003 before musicologists made the connection to Rubinstein. The
collection was finally donated to the Juilliard Institute in New York, and is
hosted in the Peter Jay Sharp Special Collection Library. This CD presents the
newly discovered version, a world premiere.
Other manuscripts also have unusual stories. For example, Sonata Sauvage was
published in the 1980s. In 2003, Guy Livingston recorded this version on his
album “The Lost Sonatas of George Antheil” (Wergo CD 6661-2). A few years ago,
a missing movement was discovered at the Sacher Foundation in Basel, and many
missing indications were found in the original manuscript, so that the Sonata
Sauvage on this album is almost entirely
a new work. Other compositions reappeared by chance, such as Piece for Merle, which I
bought at an auction in New York, or the pianola roll of Serpent mécanique, which the pianist Marc-André Hamelin
found at an annual clearance sale at a New York library. This unique pianola
roll is original, and bears an autographed dedication from Antheil to Jan
Slivinsky. The world-premiere recording on this CD is arranged by Guy
Livingston, and performed at one piano simultaneously by three hard-working
pianists. — MP
Profane Waltzers courtesy of Arthur Rubinstein Music Collection, The Juilliard School Library.
Amirkhanian, Antheil Family, George Boziwick, Sheila Brennan, Ulrike
Bretz-Faust, Frank Brickle, Mme Bernadette Collette, David Flachs, Hélène
Fontanges, Eelco Grimm, Jane Gottlieb, Marc-André Hamelin, James R. Hawkins II,
Erik Hense, Sabine Hochhauser, Famille Jan, Famille Keler, Paul Lehrman, Renzo
Robert Livingston, Pierre Malbos, Peggy Monastra, Frank J. Oteri, Famille
Perrot, Mauro Piccinini, Robert Piencikowski, Roberta Roman, Cyril Roux,
Rubinstein Family, Oliver Schneller, Marilyn Smith, Maria Sperling, and the
Library of Congress, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, UC Santa
Barbara Library, and Princeton University Library.
This CD was made possible with
financial support from
Fund for Music
Pro Musica Viva
– Maria Strecker-Daelen Stiftung
of New Jersey
F278 tuned by Jean Michel Daudon.
Paris, Spring 2013 on Neumann U87 microphones. DCS 904, Lovardin Technologies.
editing and artistic direction by Joël Perrot.
Sotto Voce with Fist: The Story
of Antheil’s “Lost” Sonatas
as John Cage was probably the most notorious American composer of the post-war
twentieth century, George Antheil was the most notorious of the pre-war era.
Antheil’s succés de scandale was astonishing,
making him the rival of Stravinsky and Satie. As with Cage, Antheil’s eagerness
to foment revolution came from his daring instrumentation, surprising
pronouncements, and anti-establishment attitudes. Works like the Ballet mécanique–scored for 16 mechanical pianos, airplane
propellers, percussion, and siren–literally blew people away and caused riots
in the concert halls.
click to order on Amazon.com
An excellent pianist
himself, Antheil had full mastery of the instrument and how to write for it.
Freest as a soloist, he was unhampered by orchestration problems, or by
conservative performers. Up to 1940, he performed all his piano music himself,
experimenting with the juiciest, wildest and most radical ideas in the sonatas.
Writing about Antheil’s performances in Berlin, critic H. H. Stuckenschmidt
raved, “I had never heard playing like it. It was a mixture of frenzy and
precision which went far beyond conventional virtuosity. A machine seemed to be
playing the keys. Unbelievably difficult and complex rhythms were combined …
Dynamics and tempos were taken to extremes. It was a stunning success.” This is
the composer who carried a gun to concerts, and could wickedly write a note to
the performer: “sotto voce (with fist).”
were the musical antecedents for the young Antheil growing up in Trenton, New
Jersey? According to his autobiography, his inspiration came from “the music of
the future” that he heard one night in his sleep. No less importantly, the
factories of industrial Trenton would have provided ear-splitting sounds of
sufficient variety and loudness to excite any budding avant-garde composer.
the 1920s, Antheil thrilled European audiences with these same cinematically
spicy concoctions, mixing jazz and ragtime, sweetness, and explosive noise.
Virgil Thomson recalled, “I envied George his freedom from academic
involvements, the bravado of his music, and its brutal charm.” Nothing could
describe better the Sonate Sauvage,
a work radical in its structure and unexpected in its organization. Cross
rhythms, pounding ostinati, clusters,
accretion techniques, sudden juxtapositions of themes, styles and dynamics are
all taken to extremes.
“Woman” piano sonata, 2nd movement, performed by Guy Livingston.
many composers, Antheil refused to acknowledge his debts to others. However it
is easy enough to pinpoint some sources: Ornstein for clusters and power,
Schoenberg for basic harmony, Chopin for the arpeggiated left hand, Liszt for
virtuosity, and Debussy for chords. Milhaud and Stravinsky also play a major
role. But Antheil’s most important influence is from the African-American,
Ragtime, and Creole music of his youth, expressed in the Sonate
Sauvage with powerful effect.
was everything to Antheil. Development was irrelevant. In the futurist sonatas,
particularly the Woman Sonata and the Sonate Sauvage, there is no development, no recapitulation,
and no exposition. Grinning from ear to ear, he hints at sonata-form (A, B, A’)
but always ducks out at the last moment. Themes are presented, dropped, and
re-presented on the basis of an overall metrical scheme which is deliberately
obscure. Events succeed each other on gut instinct, as if he were accompanying
a silent film, reacting instantly to the surprise of each cinematic cut.
Contrasts are stark and unsettling, and the toccatas that conclude virtually
every piano work are nightmarish in their compositional intensity. Yet
Antheil’s music is exuberant and joyous, saved from sheer mechanics by humor
and lighthearted parody—of himself, and of his favorite composers.
as a kid at the Jersey shore
the young George
with his father
George and his grandmother?
George and Böski
concert in Paris
Böski, Hedy, George in Hollywood
with the November Grüppe in Paris
George and Böski with Peter in Laurel Canyon, California
Ezra Pound and George at the studio on rue Nôtre Dame des Champs
In the late 1930s
Antheil headed for Hollywood, where his music took a decidedly traditional
turn, to the point that he was referred to as the “Shostakovitch of Trenton.”
During the forties and fifties this neo-romantic music enjoyed wide popularity,
and his stirring and patriotic symphonies found acclaim across America. With
the post-war sonatas, Antheil mellowed out and adopted sonata form and
classical structure in three massive Prokofiev-inspired compositions. But he
was still harboring peppery surprises, as the diabolic finale of the Third
Sonata, premiered in 1949 by Winifred Young, amply illustrates.
Fourth and Fifth Sonatas are more sober works, and were written for the pianist
Frederick Marvin, who premiered them in New York at Carnegie Hall in 1948, and
Town Hall in 1950. The central movement of each is based on a Prokofiev theme,
which Antheil elaborates and elongates via a dazzling and tragic
transformation. Stricken by the early death of his brother in Russia, Antheil
may have intended to memorialize him in these works. Both have concluding
toccatas which plunge the pianist into a maelstrom of prestissimo octaves and
ostinati. Composer Frank J. Oteri
writes, “The Fifth Sonata is a masterpiece. To my ears, it seems like the
synthesis between the earlier and later music and makes the case for the unity
of Antheil’s polystylistic vision perhaps better than any other piece.” Indeed,
the Fifth is perhaps the summit of Antheil’s career as a sonata composer: it is
an extraordinary summary of the power and creativity he brought to the piano.
An intensely personal work, it is brutal and tender, grand and expressive,
Antheil’s final masterpiece.
composing in Paris
died suddenly in his fifties, and his music, tarnished by his association with
Hollywood and by his tell-all autobiography, was largely forgotten after his
death. A series of feuds with his publishers meant that even the few works that
had been published languished in obscurity during the sixties and seventies, a
time when “futurism” seemed hopelessly rear-guard to the contemporary
experimentalists and serialists. Of Antheil’s thirteen piano sonatas, only two
were in printed circulation at the time of his death. The orchestral music, the
large catalog of chamber music, and Antheil’s operas were similarly neglected.
1970 composer and radio host Charles Amirkhanian met Antheil’s wife Böski, and
was astonished to find that she still had the original pencil manuscripts of
almost every work of her late husband’s prolific career. Realizing the massive
importance of this collection, Amirkhanian promoted further interest in Antheil
with impressive concerts in California, Holland and Germany and became the
executor of the Estate of George Antheil in 1978. Scholar Linda Whitesitt began
a catalog of the music in 1981, and in 1991 The New York Public Library
purchased the collection, and began the complex task of cataloging it.
I first saw the collection, I found the magnitude of Antheil’s piano
compositions astonishing on every level: hundreds of pages of music, most of it
virtuosic, bold, brash, innovative, funny, and brilliantly ahead of its time.
Working with the generous assistance of curator George Boziwick of the New York
Public Library and invaluable advice from Antheil scholar Mauro Piccinini, I
performed and presented the piano manuscripts in 6 concerts over 6 years in the
Bruno Walter Auditorium.
“lost” piano sonatas were never completely missing but they are not exactly
“found” either. Over the years, historians and catalogers of George Antheil’s
music have had to leap a frustrating set of hurdles, the result of Antheil’s
memory, which was selective, his business sense, which was bad, and his
handwriting, which was worse. Adding to the confusion, Antheil was a notorious
revisionist of his own catalog, and some works changed title, dedication, and
movements several times.
for the performance of all six of these unpublished sonatas is based on my
research at Princeton University and The New York Public Library for the
Performing Arts. This CD is the first recording of three of these “missing”
works, which illustrate so well Antheil’s wit
the acme of demented modernism! —The New York Herald
Ballet mécanique SOLO is an extraordinary work by composer George Antheil, arranged for solo piano and electronics by Guy Livingston and Paul Lehrman. It was commissioned by the SinusTon Festival in Magdeburg, Germany, and premièred in 2016. Further performances have been in Montréal, and at Tufts University and Brown University.
World première of Ballet mécanique SOLO, at the SinusTON Festival in Germany.
Minimum technical requirements: 8 channels of sound with 8 loudspeakers; amplified grand piano; projector/beamer; screen; stage lights; mixing board. We bring laptops, MOTUs, and the newly restored film, which is 4K digital.
GUY LIVINGSTON performing Ballet mécanique at Tufts Universityat Tufts University
is silence tangible?
More about Silence
Suggested reading list on silence
John Cage: Silence (this is the bible of John Cage fans – full of insight and anecdotes)
Kyle Gann: No Such Thing as Silence (Gann was head music critic for the Village Voice)
Salomé Voegelin: Silence and Noise (a modern take on sound art)
Douglas Kahn: Noise Water Meat (a controversial rebuttal of many preconceived ideas)
Film: Die große Stille (a mystical documentary about a french monastery)
Movie: The Sound of Noise (Swedish alternative detective movie, hilarious, cult)
Suggested listening list
medieval music of the école de Notre Dame: especially Leonin and Pérotin