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George Antheil
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George Antheil

George Antheil (June 8, 1900 - February 12, 1959) was an American composer and pianist. He first established a career as a concert pianist, mostly in Europe, but shortly thereafter also attracted notice for his avant-garde compositions, which were strongly influenced by Stravinsky. His most famous work is Ballet mécanique; (1926), intended as a concert piece and not as music for dancers, despite the title: it's the machines that are doing the dancing in this piece, which includes parts for electric buzzers and airplane propellers.

In the 1930s Antheil's music grew more traditional, but at the same time he found difficulty making a living, and at various times he wrote film scores, conducted a lonely-hearts column, and wrote for Esquire Magazine. His autobiography, Bad Boy of Music (1945), was a popular success, and it remains a vivid and entertaining account of his experiences. In the last two decades of his life he was in demand as a composer of operas and film scores. Long after his death, his work in yet another field was belatedly recognized: he and Hedy Lamarr are credited with inventing the frequency-hopping spread spectrum technique for signal transmission in 1942. He died in 1959, in New York City leaving his wife, Boski, and two surviving children, Peter, and Chris.

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