THE WELL-TEMPERED PIANOLA

George Antheil gets his encore

The New Jersey–born composer George Antheil found acceptance in the salons of post–World War I Paris; he called Stravinsky, Joyce, and Hemingway friends, but lesser mortals were often mystified. Apocryphal reports from Budapest suggest that Antheil had a habit of laying a pistol on his piano to quiet disobedient spectators, and the Paris debut of his Ballet Mécanique (1924) ended in a minor riot. That piece, written for 16 synchronized—and, back in those days, recently invented—player pianos, was never properly realized in his lifetime, due to technological problems so daunting that Antheil once tried to overcome them using an onstage airplane propeller. Tonight, the 3LD Art & Technology Center remedies the injustice with a 25-piece automated orchestra and a rare showing of the recently restored film of the same name by Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy, for which Ballet Mécanique was originally written.
Sat., June 7, 8 p.m., 2008
 
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