Workshop: Ensemble Mécanique

with Winfried Ritsch

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Ballet Mécanique
© N. Lackner


The "Ensemble Mécanique" is a robotic ensemble proposed by George Antheil in 1924 for his work "Ballet Mécanique":
  • 3 pianos with Rhea automaton players as pre-setters
  • 3 xylophones with attached Iapetos playing units
  • 4 drums and 1 TAM TAM with Escher controller and Escher FET stages
  • 3 propellers with Coeus control of the motors
  • 7 bells with Coeus controller
  • 3 sirens with Coeus controller

The aim of the workshop is to capture the spirit of the robotic ensemble, lead it to its own ideas and perform them in a final concert a week later on 18/4/2024. From the machine as a sound generator to the machine as a musician and composer.
As a starting point, the composition “Ballet Mécanique” will be shown and then the instruments and their control using the Pure Data application will be explained and their limits explored. In addition, experimental compositions such as “Canon Mécanique” or automated piano pieces such as the talking piano “Deus Cantando” and “Music’s over” by Peter Ablinger will be presented.
The possibilities of composing your own compositions for parts or the entire ensemble will then be presented. Depending on previous training, students can then work on concepts.
On the second day there will be the opportunity to carry out your own experiments.

Friday 12/4/2024

Arrival in the morning
11:00-13:00 Presentation and demonstration
 – Break –
14:00-15:30 Introduction: the automata and their control
15:30-17:00 Workshop: networking and the ensemble patch as well as composition possibilities
 – Break –
18:00 Open End: First tests and improvisation

Saturday 13/4/2024

9:00-12:00 Tests and discussion of ideas
 – Break –
13:00-15:00 Reserve time for ideas and tests
17:00 Departure
On 18/4/2024, 17:00 there will be a final workshop concert

Ballet Mécanique

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.
More about the project at

Macht und Tradition, Kultur im Fluss

Event info

Lehár Theater Bad Ischl