On Friday September 7, at 7 PM, the Whitney Museum of American Arts
will be presenting the New York premiere of a newly-restored print of
the film "Ballet mecanique", by Fernand Leger, Man Ray, and Dudley
Murphy; with music by George Antheil, arranged and recorded by me.
Although Antheil and the filmmakers started on this project together,
they were never able to make the different parts come together. This
is the first time that Antheil's original 1924 score has been used
with the film.
The score calls for 16 player pianos, 2 human pianists, four bass
drums, three xylophones, tam-tam, siren, seven electric bells, and
three airplane propellers. This realization of the score -- which is
performed at a tempo no human beings could achieve -- involved
recording the player pianos and bells "live" at the University of
Massachusetts Lowell in 1999, and then overlaying the other parts
electronically at my studio in 2000. It also involved editing Antheil's
music to fit the film, since the music as originally composed is almost
twice as long as the film.
The film was premiered at Brandeis University this past May, as part of
the Boston Cyberarts Festival, where it was shown on videotape. The
Boston Phoenix called the synchronization of the film and the music
"brilliant." At this premiere at the Whitney, the actual film will be
shown for the first time, with the score played digitally from a CD
player. I will be giving a brief talk about the project before the
Also screened that evening will be the 1922 film, Salome, by Alla
Nazimova, Charles Bryant, and Natacha Rambova; with live piano
accompaniment performed by Donald Sosin. The program is part of
a giant festival of early avant-garde films called "Unseen Cinema".
The Whitney Museum of American Art is at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th
Street, New York, NY 10021. For information call (212) 570-3676, or
visit http://whitney.org/ For more information on the film, visit
Hope to see you there.