George Antheil's <i>Ballet Mécanique</i>

Maurice Peress

in Dvorák to Duke Ellington

Published in print April 2004 | ISBN: 9780195098228
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199869817 | DOI:
George Antheil's Ballet Mécanique

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This chapter describes the researching and reconstructing of what was perhaps the most infamous modern music event of the 20th century after Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, George Antheil's “Ballet Mecanique” for player piano, eight concert grands, xylophones, drums, a fire siren, doorbells, and aeroplane propellers. It was designed to shock, but beneath its wild surface lies a story that includes the poet, Ezra Pound; artists and film makers Leger, Man Ray, and Picabia; composers W. C. handy (and his all-negro Orchestra) Colin McFee, Aaron Copland and Virgil Thomson; and the violinist, Olga Rudge. It was the first work to encompass silences, some as long as twenty-four seconds, and in many minds, minimalism.

Keywords: Ezra Pound; Fernand Leger; Man Ray; Picabia; W. C. Handy; Colin McFee; Aaron Copland; Virgil Thomson; Olga Rudge

Chapter.  7275 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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