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Bad Boy of Music

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Antheil's 'mechanistic' works made him the rage of the 1920s Parisian artistic community and 'bad boy' of the music scene. Antheil's 'mechanistic' works made him the rage of the 1920s Parisian artistic community and 'bad boy' of the music scene.


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Antheil's 'mechanistic' works made him the rage of the 1920s Parisian artistic community and 'bad boy' of the music scene. Antheil's 'mechanistic' works made him the rage of the 1920s Parisian artistic community and 'bad boy' of the music scene.

30 review for Bad Boy of Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tentatively, Convenience

    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 a 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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    How could I resist reading the autobiography/memoirs of the composer of Ballet Mecanique, whose early concerts incited such riots that he took to performing with a gun in a shoulder holster? Antheil's book is kind of midway between memoirs and autobiography - it covers his life (up until 1943 or so - the book was published in 1945) as thoroughly as an autobiography, but is more chatty and less linear, like memoirs. Antheil's narrative style is fairly casual and chatty, which made for a good readi How could I resist reading the autobiography/memoirs of the composer of Ballet Mecanique, whose early concerts incited such riots that he took to performing with a gun in a shoulder holster? Antheil's book is kind of midway between memoirs and autobiography - it covers his life (up until 1943 or so - the book was published in 1945) as thoroughly as an autobiography, but is more chatty and less linear, like memoirs. Antheil's narrative style is fairly casual and chatty, which made for a good reading experience. His life was very interesting - he started out as a kind of enfant terrible, living a bohemian expat life in Paris during the 1920s and 30s, writing shockingly avant-garde music. The coming of WWII caused him to return to America, where he attempted to support himself in various ways both musical and non-musical so that he could provide for his family and continue composing. His return to America also heralded his shift to a more neo-romantic and less wild style. I found the earlier parts of Antheil's book the most interesting. His life in Paris was eventful and creative, and involved some of his most interesting composing. His anecdotes about his personal and artistic escapades of these years were always entertaining, even if I didn't always fully believe his accounts. Once he returned to America, Antheil seemed to flounder and struggle, becoming too caught up in sometimes ill-conceived efforts to establish financial security, and also having a series of creative crises.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bobby Title

    A friend and I were introduced to George Antheil's "8 Fragments from Shelley" at the 1955 rehearsals of the Roger Wagner Chorale held at UCLA. Our college music professor from Pepperdine played violin in the orchestra and while we never met Antheil himself, we met his amazing music and were simply blown away! (A high school chum, Marilyn Horne, was singing in that chorale at that time!). Since then, there never has been a time when I didn't have a recording of Antheil's music in my possession. J A friend and I were introduced to George Antheil's "8 Fragments from Shelley" at the 1955 rehearsals of the Roger Wagner Chorale held at UCLA. Our college music professor from Pepperdine played violin in the orchestra and while we never met Antheil himself, we met his amazing music and were simply blown away! (A high school chum, Marilyn Horne, was singing in that chorale at that time!). Since then, there never has been a time when I didn't have a recording of Antheil's music in my possession. Just recently I learned of his autobiography, and of course I had to read it. Naturally I was predisposed to favor it, and I was not disappointed. I found his writing, as well as his story interesting, enjoyable, surprising, and spell-binding (meaning of course that I couldn't put it down!). All I knew of him before I read the book was of his connection to Shelley's writings; I am so pleased and enriched by everything I read. And it makes me laugh that 61 years after "finding" Antheil the first time I "find" him again - and enjoy him in an entirely different way. Now I am getting ready to put on my CD "Antheil Plays Antheil" and once again listen to those "8 Fragments" - my favorite being: "To the Moon."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Djll

    The early 20th century new music world, as reported by a hyper-imaginative and slightly grandiose participant. The first half of it is an absolute hoot. Then it slows down as the author matures. Finally, we're given a weird rah-rah patriotic finish (the book was written during WWII) detailing Antheil's strictly platonic relationship with the beautiful Hedy Lamarr and how they invented and patented a secret torpedo-homing device together. Told you it was weird. The early 20th century new music world, as reported by a hyper-imaginative and slightly grandiose participant. The first half of it is an absolute hoot. Then it slows down as the author matures. Finally, we're given a weird rah-rah patriotic finish (the book was written during WWII) detailing Antheil's strictly platonic relationship with the beautiful Hedy Lamarr and how they invented and patented a secret torpedo-homing device together. Told you it was weird.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Randy Anderson

    What fun this man was. A true musical talent who lived amongst great talent in a time when artists were breaking conventions. I'm pretty sure he makes tons of stuff up but it's good stuff and his writing style is easy and enjoyable. What fun this man was. A true musical talent who lived amongst great talent in a time when artists were breaking conventions. I'm pretty sure he makes tons of stuff up but it's good stuff and his writing style is easy and enjoyable.

  6. 4 out of 5

    alan hughs

    the chapter in this book on what one should do if you want to be a composer was the most helpful to me, how to support and take care of yourself (and others) if you want to have the energy and time to be a creative writer

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ira Carter

    Antheil partied in Europe with Stravinsky, Joyce, Hemingway, and others. The writing is breezy and amusing. Is it truthful? That is rather beside the point. It's an easy read and a fun snapshot of Europe and specifically Paris between the wars. Antheil partied in Europe with Stravinsky, Joyce, Hemingway, and others. The writing is breezy and amusing. Is it truthful? That is rather beside the point. It's an easy read and a fun snapshot of Europe and specifically Paris between the wars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Koerner

    A must-read for any aspiring artist/musician. Antheil's life - ups and downs - is the message itself. This book also paints a great picture of music in Europe between the world wars. A must-read for any aspiring artist/musician. Antheil's life - ups and downs - is the message itself. This book also paints a great picture of music in Europe between the world wars.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Felicia

    I had fun reading this book. It is filled with truths, half truths and outright lies. The fun was finding out which were which.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Readswrite

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kate

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  14. 4 out of 5

    Geoffrey Yamasaki

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sepehri

  16. 5 out of 5

    Johnmcdonald

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dr H

  18. 4 out of 5

    Troyboy

  19. 5 out of 5

    tyler

  20. 4 out of 5

    Robert Costic

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dongregorio

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joe Petty

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christian Schwarzenegger

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bronwen Stine

  25. 4 out of 5

    Misty

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marco

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Smigelski

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mara

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Adams

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mike Lovato

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