antheil


Riot at the Champs Elysées
l'Enfant Terrible





 

Riot at the Champs Elysées

The public reaction to this memorable concert on October 4th, 1923, has been immortalized on film: During the performance of Antheil's wildy aggressive piano works, the audience was (as planned) incited by Satie and others to whistle and demonstrate against this monstrous music. Antheil naturally kept his cool (he claims that he was packing a pistol onstage in a silken holster). Meanwhile, Marcel L'Herbier, the father of French avant-garde cinema, was shooting away from multiple cameras onstage. The footage thus obtained of the screaming audience was used in Herbier's silent film, finished only a few months later, L'inhumaine. Antheil was already notorious in Germany, but this event assured his celebrity in Paris for decades afterwards. Unfortunately, Antheil himself has been edited out of the film, and replaced by his good friend, the actress Georgette Leblanc.

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l'Enfant Terrible

“George Antheil certainly has genius. I do not believe that he has arrived at the definitive formulation of his art. What he is presently giving us are rather his studies, his researches, which are very close to those of Picasso: without concession, as far as he can in a domain that is often arid. However, I have already been permitted to enjoy the absolutely new pathos of it, the uprooting rhythm, a joyful drunkenness of contradiction, a private discovery such as children sing to themselves--It seems to me that his music has a great and salutary influence upon the body; Jean Prévost accurately compares it to sports. Like the Tibetan and Mongol rhythms that Antheil has studied a great deal, it drives out demons and fixes gods without asking them for their opinion.”

From Les Gazettes d'Adrienne Monnier, first published in Le Navire d'Argent (January 1926) [translated by Richard McDougall, in The Very Rich Hours of Adrienne Monnier, Charles Scribner's Sons, NY, 1976.]

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Antheil

Antheil is shown here in about 1923 with Ezra Pound, who was writing a contentious book, supposedly about George's music.
Photo courtesy of the Estate of George Antheil.

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