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Antheil the Futurist

By Leach

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By Leach, Livingston, and Bela Keler. By George Antheil (1900-1959). Listening CD. Wergo #WER 67622. Published by Wergo (NX.WER-67622).

Item Number: NX.WER-67622

Early in 1920, the young brash composer George Antheil decided to leave his home country, the USA, and conquer the concert halls of Europe as a pianist. Profiting from the post-war situation, many North American artists were touring inflation-plagued Germany, Austria and Hungary. Antheil traveled first to London and then to Germany where he set up headquarters from July 1922 to June 1923: “My July 1922 arrival in Berlin remains one of the greatest impressions of my entire life. Gone were the gay blue, red and green uniformed soldiers. Gone were the boisterous happy, prosperous, tumultuous days - Berlin was in grey slow-motion.”

Antheil's childhood had given him a good background for living in Berlin. Born in Trenton, New Jersey, as son of German immigrants, he was raised in a Lutheran household, speaking German at home. At ease with the language and the culture, he arrived in Germany in 1922 well-prepared to dazzle Europe with his daring compositions and bold pianism.

Most of his experimental piano music was composed in Berlin in just this one year: “The chief and most important effect of this postwar Berlin upon me was to houseclean out of me all of the remaining old poesy, false sentimentality, and overjuicy overidyllicism,” he declared. Many of these works can be heard together for the first time on this recording thanks to new discoveries and scholarly research - exquisitely performed by Guy Livingston who is one of the foremost performers promoters of Antheil's music today.

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