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George Antheil
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    (July 8, 1900-February 12, 1959)
    Born in Trenton, New Jersey
    Avant-garde composer and pianist
    Works include 'Ballet Mecanique' (1923), 'A Jazz Symphony' (1925), six symphonies and the operas 'Transatlantic' (1930), 'Helen Retires' (1931) and 'Volpone' (1952)
    Composed scores for the films 'The Scoundrel' (1935), 'Make Way for Tomorrow' (1937), 'In a Lonely Place' (1950), 'Sirocco' (1951), 'Dementia' (1955) and 'The Pride and the Passion' (1957)
    His percussive technique was often described as hitting the piano rather than playing it, and he sometimes injured his hands doing so.
    Performances of his works provoked rioting on a couple of occasions.
    He engineered his 'disappearance' during a trip in Africa to drum up publicity for the Paris premier of 'Ballet Mecanique.'
    After the London premier of 'Ballet Mecanique,' the 'Times' music critic wrote, 'The concert is being organized as a benefit to Mr. Antheil and the promoters hope the proceeds will enable the composer to remain in Europe and continue working there. In self-defense a concert should be organized on this side to enable Mr. Antheil to return to New York.'
    In the 1940s, when he had trouble getting his musical works performed and was supporting himself as a lonely hearts columnist, he wrote 'I could at last label myself a complete failure.'
    In Paris, he was embraced as part of the modernist movement by composer Erik Satie, artist Pablo Picasso and author James Joyce.
    He wrote a detective novel under a pseudonym.
    During WWII, he and actress Hedy Lamarr invented a system for remote control of torpedos.
    After the patent expired, their technique was adopted for spread spectrum technology in telecommunications.

Credit: C. Fishel

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