'Ballet Mcanique' finally can be heard

American symphony orchestras are loading their programs this year with works by Aaron Copeland (1900-1990) and even Kurt Weill (1900-1950), the German-American who straddled pop and classical.

But a third American composer born at the dawn of the 20th century is also getting his centennial due. While living in Paris as part of the expatriate American community in 1924, George Antheil (1900-1959, pronounced ANN-tile) composed his "Ballet pour Instruments Mcaniques et Percussion."

His wildly innovative score called for 16 synchronized player pianos (along with plenty of percussion, two "live" pianos, and various sounds of the modern world, like a siren, airplane propellers, and electric bells). Eventually, he gave up on performing the piece, since coordinating the mechanical pianos proved impossible. Instead, he wrote two other versions that tossed out the 16-piano concept.

The original version had never been heard until last November in Lowell, Mass., when a phalanx of computer-controlled pianos played it for 1,000 listeners.

Now even more of the curious can hear the original "Ballet Mcanique" that even Antheil (the self-proclaimed "Bad Boy of Music") himself was never able to. The American Composers Orchestra will perform it at Carnegie Hall April 2, and the San Francisco Symphony will follow June 11. And a CD with the Lowell performance will be issued next month.

Paris performances by Antheil used to cause riots. That won't happen today. It's just a composer getting his hearing - 76

*Send your comments on Arts & Leisure to entertainment@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK