In 2019, visual artist Peter Kogler and curator Katrin Bucher-Trantow initiated a reinterpretation of the legendary Ballet Mécanique by American composer George Antheil for Kogler’s exhibition “Connected” at Kunsthaus Graz. The Graz composer Winfried Ritsch subsequently realised this music machine.
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.
Winfried Ritsch, Atelier Algorythmics (artist)
Wolfgang Schlag (Curator)
Christian Haselmayr (Head of Programme Music, Youth, Community Building)
Hannah Kickert (Production)