Ballet Mécanique. A Dada Musical Event

The Wolfsonian Museum. December 1st, 2007. 7:00 p.m.

The Wolfsonian Museum. Miami MuseumsThe Wolfsonian Museum – FIU will mount a fully automated/robotic orchestration of the then-scandalous 1924 Ballet Mécanique, the most notorious “lost” musical composition of the twentieth century, which was both hailed and hated upon its debut. Its young American composer George Antheil, known for his outrageous composition and piano recitals and for stirring up controversy, was considered by the Parisian artistic community as the musical spokesman for modernist ideals.

Ballet Mécanique was considered Antheil’s magnum opus. The original composition calls for ten human musicians, including two pianists; four bass drums; three xylophones; a tam-tam; seven electric bells; three airplane propellers; a siren; and sixteen player pianos. Highly rhythmic, often brutalistic, the piece combines atonal music and jazz.

Originally conceived as a score to accompany a film by French Dadaist artist Fernand Léger and American cinematographer Dudley Murphy, Ballet Mécanique was never performed the way the composer envisioned it, because the technology – most significantly, the ability to synchronize multiple player pianos – did not then exist. The film, which runs for approximately 16 minutes, is a highly abstract collage of images, ranging from an animated Cubist caricature of Charlie Chaplin to half-a-dozen kitchen funnels dancing on a string cut together in the Dadaist fashion of continuously looping images backwards, forwards, and upside down.

For more information, please call: 305.535.2631

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