Interactive Timelines by Erin Rabbitt (1900-1924) and Nicole DeStefano (1924-1959)

A Lasting Impression: George Antheil and Trenton Makes Music:
George Antheil was a composer who greatly contributed to the music scene in the early 1900s. Today, Antheil continues to be relevant, and is a great figure to come out of the area of Trenton. It is important to recognize his efforts in our Trenton Makes Music Project because he was a determined lover of music who decided to create himself doing what he was truly passionate about. To learn more about Antheil’s life, see the timeline titled “George Antheil Timeline 1924-1959”.

George Antheil was an outstanding American composer who began his professional career in Europe. However, he grew up and spent most of his younger years in Trenton, New Jersey. He wrote over 300 musical works in all major genres, including symphonies, chamber works, film music, and operas. This timeline highlights Antheil’s life from 1924-1959, focusing on monumental moments in his career. To learn about Antheil’s life before 1924, view the slide show titled, “George Antheil Timeline 1900-1924.”

Antheil is particularly interesting to scholars and composers of electronic music because his experimental compositions anticipated the use of synchronized machines to perform music. His most famous composition, Ballet Mechanique, originally called for16 player pianos, but there was no way to make the instruments play the same thing at the same time with the same level of volume in 1924. The performances of the composition during Antheil’s lifetime were based upon a modified version of his score. In 1999, composer and music technologist Paul Lehrman actually programmed Antheil’s  original composition.

Antheil and movie star Hedy Lamarr obtained a patent in 1942 for a radio transmission technique known as “frequency hopping.” They hoped that this method would help the US military guide its torpedoes without being detected. Their collaboration was the subject of a 2008 play, “Frequency Hopping,” which featured excerpts of  the Lehrman’s arrangement of  Ballet Mechanique. played by a robotic orchestra. Lehrman maintains a website about Antheil here.