Ballet Mécanique

The Salzkammergut Region Version

The Salzkammergut was a melting pot of the avant-garde in the 19th and 20th centuries. The performance and exhibition of the “Ballet Mécanique” tie in with this tradition and at the same time offer a Salzkammergut version of the visionary masterpiece of classical modernism.

Subject to change
Ballet Mécanique
© N. Lackner

Wolfgang Schlag (Curator)
Winfried Ritsch
Christian Haselmayr
(Project Management for the 2024 European Capital of Culture Salzkammergut)


About the project

In the 1920s, at the height of the industrial revolution, George Antheil inspired with the idea of having his “Ballet Mécanique” played by a machine orchestra. Eight drums, seven bells, a siren, seven aeroplane propellers and up to 16 pianolas, player pianos that were already in widespread use at the time, were supposed to realise this, but he failed in the technical implementation. It was finally an alternative version with two pianists and one pianola in a slower tempo that he showed in the first performance in Paris, provoking a much-noticed scandal. A year later, it led to a fiasco in the United States. But his idea lives on and continues to inspire artists and audiences alike. 100 years after the creation of the “Ballet Mécanique”, it is now being performed according to the latest findings in the originally intended version by Antheil and synchronized with the version of the film of the same name by Fernand Léger from 1924 in the Lehar Theater. The premiere of this film and piano installation took place at the Kunsthaus Graz in 2019.


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