George Antheil (born 1900
, died 1959
) was an American born composer from Trenton
but started his music
career in Paris
where he associated with numerous writers
such as James Joyce
, Ezra Pound
, Pablo Picasso
, Salvador Dali
, and Igor Stravinsky
Antheil composed over 300 pieces in many genres including works for symphony, chamber ensemble, film and opera.
His most famous (or infamous) contribution to 20th century music was his work Ballet Mecanique, which caused riots at it's debut.
Ballet Mecanique in its first incarnation was written in 1924 for 16 player pianos (pianolas) playing four separate parts, four bass drums, three xylophones, a tam-tam, seven electric bells, a siren, and three different-sized airplane propellors, as well as two regular pianos played by human performers.
This version of the piece had never been performed in its original incarnation until the 1990's, when the technology (MIDI) for syncing up all the player pianos was finally available to make the piece technically possible.
Note: MIDI was available pre 1990, but this was when the piece was first actually attempted in it's original form.