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Guide to the George Antheil Collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: George Antheil Collection
    Dates: 1920-1959
    Collection number: ANTHEIL
    Collector: Charles Amirkhanian
    Collection Size: 7 linear ft.
    Repository: Stanford Music Library
    Stanford University Libraries
    Stanford, California 94305-3076
    Abstract: The collection consists of George Antheil?s correspondence. All, but one of the letters, are photocopies, the dates range from 1920 to 1959. The materials were collected by Charles Amirkhanian.
    Physical location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open for research. May be used onsite only. Please contact the Music Library to arrange for advance retrieval of materials.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the repository of the original documents.

    Preferred Citation

    George Antheil Collection, ANTHEIL. Courtesy of the Stanford Music Library, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California.

    Biography / Administrative History

    George Antheil was born on July 8, 1900 in Trenton, New Jersey. He studied briefly with Constantin von Sternberg and Ernest Bloch. In 1922, he traveled to Europe to pursue a career as a concert pianist, performing many of his own works such as Mechanisms, Airplane Sonata, and Sonata Sauvage. The riots that his music caused contributed to the composer's growing notoriety. In Berlin, he met Stravinsky who exerted the single most important influence on his compositional style.
    In the 1920s the Parisian artistic community, including Joyce, Pound, Cocteau, Satie, Picasso, and others, championed Antheil as a musical spokesman for their modernist ideas. His crowning achievement during this period was the spectacular and controversial Ballet M?canique, a milestone in the literature for percussion ensemble that shattered conventions. Its 1927 American premiere in Carnegie Hall, a production complete with airplane propellers, resulted in an uproar. A couple of years before the tumultuous American premiere, he composed his chef d?oeuvre A Jazz Symphony (1925) for piano and orchestra that can be placed side by side with Gershwin?s most outstanding works.
    Antheil?s late works are characterized by a neo-romantic and neo-classic style such as the Symphonie en Fa and the Piano Concerto. In 1936, he settled in Hollywood and devoted much of his time composing for the movies, and for the CBS television series "Air Power" and "Twentieth Century." The last two decades of his life were very productive; along with his over thirty film scores he composed four symphonies as well as several operas including the farcical Volpone. He also authored four books and many articles on subjects ranging from advice for the lovelorn, to endocrinology, military predictions, musical reviews, and crime novels. His autobiography Bad Boy of Music (1945) remains one of the wittiest ever written by a composer. Antheil died of heart attack on February 12th, 1959. --Dr. Mauro Piccinini
    Charles Amirkhanian, born in Fresco, California on January 19, 1945 is a composer, percussionist, sound poet and radio producer. He received a BA in English (1967), an MA in interdisciplinary creative arts (1969), and an MFA in electronic music and recording media (1980). His teachers included David Behrman, Robert Ashley and Paul de Marinis. His many administrative activities have included music director for KPFA Radio in Berkeley CA (1969-92), executive director of the Djerassi Artist Program (1993-97), and artistic and executive director of the Other Minds Festival of San Francisco (from 1998). Amirkhanian?s experiences as a percussionist and radio presenter have been defining in his compositional style. His pieces make use of the spoken voice and ambient sounds. His vocal works experiment with rhythmic and timbral qualities of individual words such as in Seatbelt Seatbelt (1973). Amirkhanian has been very active promoting American composers, writing and performing their music. Fellow composers have inspired works such as the spoken word portrait of Morton Feldman, Loudspeakers (1990). Amirkhanian?s Walking Tune (A Room-Music for Percy Grainger), an important example of his recent work, was produced with the Synclavier digital synthesizer, and combines acoustic, environmental natural sounds, or "representational sounds," with traditional musical pitched sounds or "abstract sounds."

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Charles Amirkhanian collected photocopies of Antheils?s correspondence from several sources such as Library of Congress, Princeton University, Yale University, and from the Antheil family.


    The correspondence is organized in six different series: 1. Alphabetical: including key correspondents; 2. Chronological: correspondents of lesser importance; 3. Famous Files: presumably put together by Antheil himself; 4. Family: letters mainly from and to his wife Boeske, and his son Peter; 5. Specific projects: such as his music notation and his endocrinology theories; 6. Miscellaneous: programs, clippings, a musical sketch, and one score that were sent along with letters.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Antheil, George