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Bad Boy of American Music: George Antheil - Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bad Boy of American Music: George Antheil (1900-1959), the 50th Anniversary Concert
Mark Fewer, violin, and John Novacek, piano

Join us for "Bad Boy" of American Music: George Antheil (1900-1959), the 50th Anniversary Concert, featuring Antheil's Sonatas Nos. 1, 2 & 4 for violin and piano. Canadian violinist Mark Fewer (former concertmaster, Vancouver Symphony; string chair, McGill University), and American pianist John Novacek (2004 Grammy Award nominee) join forces in this tribute.

Presented by the UMBC Department of Music’s TNT series.

8 pm, Fine Arts Recital Hall. $7 general admission, $3 seniors, free for students, free with a UMBC ID. Tickets will be available online in fall 2009. Tickets will also be available at the door (cash or check only).

Antheil was one of the 20th century's bona fide Renaissance men: film composer, advice columnist, author of mystery novels, and weapons/torpedo inventor! In the concert music realm, his sonatas for violin and piano constitute an important but still under-recognized body of work. Each is a spectacular, flamboyant masterpiece, sounding as fresh today as on the day it was written.

The first two sonatas were commissioned by Antheil's close friend, poet Ezra Pound. These works reflect the avant-garde and dada climate of Antheil's adopted city at the time, Paris (1923). No. 1 is a staggering, primitivist four-movement work played out on an epic scale; hints of Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale and Les Noces abound, but Antheil soon takes us to aural realms otherwise unimagined at the time. One of the great physical challenges in the duo repertoire, the theatrical first sonata is guaranteed to keep any audience on the edge of their seats. Sonata No. 2, in one brief movement, is a deliriously witty amalgamation of rag, parlour song, and modernist techniques--the musical equivalent of "channel surfing." The pianist even takes up a pair of Arabian drums for the surprise ending! Antheil's fourth and last sonata is something else altogether: a neo-classic work from 1948, full of verve, charm and piquancy, at times reminiscent of Prokofiev, and another audience favorite.

George Antheil is increasingly recognized as one of the outstanding creative voices of 20th century American life, and a recital of his essential violin/piano sonatas makes a fitting tribute on this, the 50th anniversary of his passing.