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Bad Boy of Music by George Antheil
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George Antheil is one of my favorite composers - even though I think most of his work is lousy. Why is he a favorite? Because he composed "Ballet Méchanique". Because he composed "Airplane Sonata". Because he composed "Woman with 100 Heads" - inspired by the Max Ernst collage bk. Because he composed the "Jazz Symphonietta". Antheil is at times called an "American Futurist" - along w/ the likes of Leo Ornstein. Both were concert pianists who composed a few piano pieces inspired by technological advances - thusly having a little in common w/ the Italian Futurists. The resemblance more or less stops there. Strictly speaking, I'm not sure there was an American Futurist movement - esp in music. Anyway, after a precocious & energetic period of innovative composing when Antheil was in his twenties, he went on to become a fairly conventional composer - IMO, an almost spectacularly bad one. He also composed soundtracks for Hollywood movies - presumably making a very comfortable living. His autobiography is interesting. He certainly didn't lead a dull life - trying his hand at a diversity of things - including writing a detetctive story called "Death in the Dark" under the name of "Stacey Bishop". I'd recommend this bk to anyone interested in his music. Otherwise? I wdn't recommend it to much of anyone.. Somewhat sad to say.

In fairness to Antheil, I quote from page 138: "If the public still thinks of me at all, it probably thinks of me as the composer of this damned "Ballet Méchanique." It is now strange for me to remember that I actually finished it as long ago as early 1925, twenty years ago - yet I am still listed among the "young American composers"! Therefore, this "Ballet Méchanique" has become to me what the "G Sharp Minor Prelude" must have become to Rachmaninoff: it is frankly my nightmare, this in spite of the fact that since 1925 I have never again touched the idea of "mechanism" in music, either aesthetically or practically, not even in the generically related "Woman with 100 Heads," written in 1933.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
February 6, 2008 – Shelved
February 6, 2008 – Shelved as: music
February 28, 2008 – Shelved as: biography

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