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Ballet Mécanique (1924) - Fernand Léger, Dudley Murphy

Related: 1924 - film - Fernand Léger - George Antheil

Ballet Mécanique (1924)


Ballet mécanique is a 1924 experimental film directed by Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy with music by George Antheil and starring Alice Prin. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballet_m%C3%A9canique [Jan 2006]

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0014694 [Oct 2004]

George Antheil wrote the score for this film, but due to various disagreements - including that Antheil's original version of the music ran 30 minutes while the film was only 16 minutes - the film was premiered without the original music. The film and music were first shown together on 5 May 2001 at Brandeis University. The film print with music was created by Paul Lehrman. --http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0014694 [Oct 2004]

(Fernand Leger, France, 1924)
Leger's only film, an avant-garde classic, fully anticipates several preoccupations of the contemporary underground: use of representational materials, while their documentary aspects are destroyed by eliminating logic or plot; "subliminal" images (only a few frames each); compulsive repetition of action (almost ten times); the beauty of the fragmentary; and the abstraction of objects by close-ups, thus lending them a new identity. Representational reality is left far behind. -- Film As a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel


George caused quite a stir with his first publically known modernist musical compositions, the Ballet Mechanique, which is the first time amy composer used machines. Antheil collaborated with Ferdinand Leger, on a film using the same name, and it captures the spirit of the music of those times. One of the interesting things about George is that he was not bound by conventional concepts of what "Classical Music" should be. He wanted to focus on the music and delivering it to the listener with the greatest possible flexibility and accuracy.

He was quoted during that era as saying that "In the future, composers would prefer to compose for machines rather than people. because machines would be more predictable, and offer a wider range of sound," but he was laughed off, considered a oddball and just being widly speculative. -- sourced at Geocities in 2004, author unidentified

Antheil: Ballet Mecanique (1924) - George Antheil

  1. Antheil: Ballet Mecanique (1924) - George Antheil [Amazon.com]
    1. Ballet Macanique 2. Serenade For String Orchestra, No. 1: Allegro 3. Serenade For String Orchestra, No. 1: Andante molto 4. Serenade For String Orchestra, No. 1: Vivo 5. Symphony For Five Instruments: Allegro 6. Symphony For Five Instruments: Lento 7. Symphony For Five Instruments: Presto 8. Concert For Chamber Orchestra
    George Antheil's reputation as the Bad Boy of Music (the title of his fascinating autobiography) was earned largely with his Ballet Mécanique, written to accompany an abstract silent film by the artist Fernand Leger. It was composed for player pianos and percussion, with harsh, driving rhythms, and it caused the kind of riots in Paris that were useful to a composer's reputation. Today, that reputation may keep Antheil from being taken seriously. But when you hear the Ballet (as rescored in 1953 for an early mono recording) today, it's a substantial and exciting piece of music, formally tight and not at all hard on 21st century ears. The remainder of this program shows more of Antheil's range. The Serenade is a lovely piece of Americana, with a particularly touching slow movement. The Symphony and Concert owe much to Stravinsky's "neoclassical" style; both hold up very well. Spalding drives the Ballet hard, and it sounds more frenetic than that old mono recording, but the music can take the heat. This and the remaining performances are splendidly played by the excellent chamber orchestra, and the recording is clear, well-balanced, and realistic in sound. Another Naxos winner. --Leslie Gerber for amazon.com

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