Mobilized in August for service in the French army , he spent two years at the front in Argonne. He produced many sketches of artillery pieces, airplanes, and fellow soldiers while in the trenches, and painted Soldier with a Pipe while on furlough. In September he almost died after a mustard gas attack by the German troops at Verdun. During a period of convalescence in Villepinte he painted The Card Players , a canvas whose robot-like, monstrous figures reflect the ambivalence of his experience of war. As he explained I was stunned by the sight of the breech of a 75 millimeter in the sunlight.
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Undeterred, George simply arranged for a local music store to deliver a piano. Antheil Jr. He became a diplomatic courier and died on June 14, , when his plane was shot down over the Baltic Sea. In , he traveled regularly to Philadelphia to study under Constantine von Sternberg , a former pupil of Franz Liszt.
Anderson described Antheil as short with an oddly shaped nose, who played "a compelling mechanical music", and used "the piano exclusively as an instrument of percussion, making it sound like a xylophone or a cymballo. Though she came to disapprove of his behavior and his work, for the next 20 years, she continued to respond favorably to his letters.
In , he wrote his first in a series of technology-based works, the solo piano Second Sonata, "The Airplane". Other works in the group included the Sonata Sauvage —3 and subsequently Third Sonata, "Death of Machines" , "Mechanisms" circa , both composed in Europe. Before the performance could take place, Antheil left for Europe to pursue his career. This may have diminished his chances for success in his native country.
The concert featured works by Claude Debussy and Stravinsky, as well as his own compositions. As he had desired, he achieved notoriety, but often had to pay the concert expenses out of his own pocket. His financial situation was not helped by Mrs.
They established a warm intimacy and the more established composer encouraged Antheil to move to Paris. Stravinsky snubbed the younger man, having discovered that Antheil had boasted that "Stravinsky admired his work".
The breach devastated Antheil, and was not ultimately repaired until , when Stravinsky sent the family tickets to a concert he was giving in Hollywood. A regular American high school boy. Joyce and Pound were soon talking of an opera collaboration. Pound introduced Antheil to Jean Cocteau , who in turn helped launch Antheil into the musical salons of Paris; Pound also commissioned Antheil to write three violin sonatas for his mistress, Olga Rudge.
The book may have done Antheil more harm than good, and the composer was to distance himself from it in his memoir. He programmed several recent compositions, including the "Airplane Sonata", the "Sonata Sauvage", and "Mechanism". According to Antheil, "People were fighting in the aisles, yelling, clapping, hooting! Antheil was delighted when Satie and Milhaud praised his music. His technique was loud, brazen, and percussive.
Critics wrote that he hit the piano rather than played it, and indeed he often injured himself by doing so. As part of his "bad boy" behavior, Antheil provocatively pulled a revolver from his jacket and laid it on the piano. All percussive. Like machines. All efficiency. No LOVE. Written without sympathy. Written cold as an army operates.
Revolutionary as nothing has been revolutionary. It is the rhythm of machinery, presented as beautifully as an artist knows how. He commissioned elaborate backdrops of skyscrapers and machines, and engaged an African American orchestra to premiere his A Jazz Symphony.
In , he premiered his first opera Transatlantic. He re-entered American life with enthusiasm, organizing concerts, working on committees with Aaron Copland and Wallingford Riegger , and writing piano, ballet, and film scores, as well as an opera Helen Retires about Helen of Troy ; the latter proved a flop. His music had moved away from more extreme aspects of modernism, and more tonal, neoromantic aspects were by now discernible in his work.
He became increasingly dependent on more independent producers such as Ben Hecht to give him work, such as Angels Over Broadway and Specter of the Rose Other interests[ edit ] Apart from music, Antheil had many other pursuits. He was disappointed, however, and wrote that "Hollywood, after a grand splurge with new composers and new ideas, has settled back into its old grind of producing easy and sure-fire scores. He considered himself an expert on female endocrinology , and wrote a series of articles about how to determine the availability of women based on glandular effects on their appearance, with titles such as "The Glandbook for the Questing Male".
He suggested glandular extracts, but their conversation then moved on to torpedoes. However these radio-controlled torpedoes could easily be detected and jammed, by broadcasting interference at the frequency of the control signal, thereby causing the torpedo to go off course. The specific code for the sequence of frequencies would be held identically by the controlling ship and in the torpedo.
This basically encrypted the signal, as it was impossible for the enemy to scan and jam all 88 frequencies because this would have required too much power.
This early version of frequency hopping, though novel, soon met with opposition from the U. Navy and was not adopted.
Charles Amirkhanian , director of the Other Minds festival, is the executor of the Antheil estate.
Ballet mécanique (Antheil, George)
Antheil - Ballet Mécanique