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Biography

  • Born

    8 July 1900

  • Born In

    Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States

  • Died

    12 February 1959 (aged 58)

George Carl Johann Antheil (1900–1959) was a U.S. composer and pianist.

Born in Trenton New Jersey on July 8, 1900, Antheil’s best-known composition is Ballet Mécanique (1924). The “ballet” was about thirty minutes long, originally conceived as the musical accompaniment to the film of the same name by Dudley Murphy and Fernand Léger. Eventually the film makers and composers chose to let their creations evolve separately, although the film credits still included Antheil. Ballet Mécanique premiered as concert music in Paris in 1926. The onstage airplane propeller blew off toupées and hats, which caused some scuffles, but critics produced positive reviews anyway. Antheil became known as the “bad boy of music”.

Antheil took Ballet Mécanique to Carnegie Hall in New York the following year. The Americans seemed less enthusiastic: they expressed mild amusement, but they would not accept Antheil as a serious composer. Antheil remained in France as a Guggenheim scholar for a few more years, during which time he wrote his opera Transatlantic, but the Depression took him back to the U.S. in 1932. He went to Hollywood in 1936 and became an established film composer.

Antheil died on 12th February 1959 in New York City.

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