Antheil’s Ballet mécanique


The Ballet mécanique is a composition by the composer George Antheil. It’s both his most famous piece and most infamous. The original piece was written for 16 pianos, four bass drums, three xylophone and three airplane propellers not too mention the seven electric bells, tam-tam and a siren.

It was composed to be played as the soundtrack to a Dada film by Fernand Leger and Dudley Murphy, and that went well until they realised it wasn’t possible to play it together, mainly because the film and music were different lengths…

“All percussive. Like machines. All efficiency. No LOVE. Written mostly without sympathy. Written as cold as an army operates. Revolutionary as nothing has been revolutionary.” George Antheil

Listen and watch the original film –

Full score:
Blast from the past in Wired:
Antheil in Essen:


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