Ballet Mécanique & Les Noces with the TOZ

David Zinman will conduct the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra for these
two rare performances of George Antheil’s most celebrated work.
Experience one of the loudest and most mechanical pieces written
in the 20th century – not something you will normally get a chance to
experience in the Tonhalle.

Known as ‘The Bad boy of Music’, George Antheil was born in
America in 1900, but spent most of his time in the 1920s in Paris,
socialising with James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Pablo
Picasso, Salvador Dali, Ernest Hemingway, Eric Satie, and Igor
Stravinsky.

It was during this time that Antheil composed what was to become
his most famous work, Ballet mécanique, a noisy mechanical work
scored for an extensive battery of percussion instruments including
a siren, electric bells, aeroplane propellers, an alarm clock and eight
grand pianos. It received rapturous acclaim at the first performance
in Paris in 1926, but was a total flop at the premiere in Carnegie Hall
in the rather more conservative America. His named reputation as
the ‘Bad Boy of Music’ and the title of his autobiography was a label
he would later regret.

Stravnsky’s ‘Les Noces’ is a work coupling well with ‘Ballet
Mécanique’, as it was during this time in 1922 that Antheil met
by chance, the composer Igor Stravinsky, who helped him on his
arrival in Paris in 1922. For a while they fell out, as he discovered
that Antheil had boasted that “Stravinsky admired his work”. The
breach devastated Antheil, and was not repaired until 1941, when
Stravinsky sent the family tickets to a concert he was giving in
Hollywood.