George Antheil's Accomplishments

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The premiere of the Rite of Spring is cemented as a major moment in music history when the crowd, angry at the strange new music rioted and ultimately burned the theatre to the ground. Stravinsky was not the only composer inciting riots with modern and often confusing music. An unruly American composer named George Antheil, influenced by the factory that sung him to sleep every night, produced riots in many European cities. But, the music and legacy of Antheil is almost entirely forgotten. The music of Stravinsky is praised and studied by millions, yet the equally innovative and iconoclastic music of George Antheil is often forgotten due to a series of bad decisions, a botched performance, and the inability to make a substantial salary, leading …show more content…

After touring the country looking for inspiration for a grand American symphony, Antheil settled in Hollywood and started composing scores for movies as well as television; this was not an artistic decision, but purely a financial one. Antheil found film composing to be painful and stunted his career with Hollywood’s hate for modern sounding music. He was so bitter that at one point he wrote a caustic article for The American Mercury entitled simply “Don’t be a composer.” The big success of his late life is his Fourth Symphony that was heralded as major success by almost every music critic. Their biggest draw to the piece was Antheil’s use of infectious and memorable melodies, a far cry from his days in Paris. While Antheil was living in Paris in the 1920’s, Sylvia Beach introduced him to a filmmaker by the name of Fernand Legér. Together they came up with an idea that would eventually be conceived as Ballet Mécanique. While both the film and the score were created at the same time, the two were very quickly separated into their own separate artistic entities. Inspired by the factory setting he grew up in, and the avant-garde art he was exposed to while living in …show more content…

The piece calls for various sized propellers; since real propellers could not be used the effect was done with regular fans. A critical error was made when these fans were pointed at the audience, and could be felt by a sizable chunk of the audience who met the breeze with great humor and laughter that permeated through the hall even after the propellers had been turned off. The last piece of this career-ruining performance came at the finale where a cacophony of noise is supposed to be played over a wailing fire siren. The siren was not able to be acquired until the performance, leaving Antheil and the rest of the ensemble painfully unaware of how a siren works. A siren has to warmed up, with the crank spinning in full force for at least a minute before sound will emerge; then after you finish cranking the noise will still permeate for quite some time. This fact was not accounted for, and the score indicated only when the noise of the siren was supposed to be prevalent. The percussionist wound the crank as fast as he could, adding humor to the already laughing crowd; and right as the last chord struck the sweet sounds of a fire siren filled the hall and drowned out the laughing and sparse applause from the

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