The Kennedy Center

George Antheil


American composer George Antheil was born on July 8, 1900 in Trenton, New Jersey. As a pupil at the Philadelphia Conservatory, Antheil studied with Constantin von Sternberg and Ernest Bloch. In 1922 he traveled to Europe to pursue a career as a concert pianist, performing many of his own works including Mechnaisms, Airplane Sonata, and Sonata Sauvage. As a young composer, Antheil considered himself quite the revolutionary. He employed many unusual sound sources and combinations of instruments in his music. As a self-proclaimed bad boy of music, he was far ahead of his time both technically and musically. His concerts in Europe often caused riots, contributing to the composer's growing notoriety.

In Paris he befriended Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso and Erik Satie who considered Antheil a musical spokesman of their modernist ideas. During this period Antheil's crowning achievement was Ballet mechanique, a spectacular work for percussion ensemble. In Berlin he met Igor Stravinsky who influenced Antheil's compositional style. In the late 1920s Antheil left Berlin as German society began to fall under the influence of the Nazis.

Antheil returned to America and in 1936 settled in Hollywood where he enjoyed a career composing for film. He left a legacy of over 300 musical works in all genres, including symphonies, chamber works, film music and operas.
George Antheil


  • Symphony No. 4
  • McConkey's Ferry