L'Ensemble mécanique by Winfried Ritsch
Created in 2019 for the Kunsthaus Graz, Austrian musician Winfried Ritsch's Mechanical Ensemble offers visitors an immersive experience, both visually and sonically, in the music of American composer George Antheil, created in 1924 for Fernand Léger's film, Ballet mécanique. In the 1920s, Antheil declared that his composition, which he intended for machines rather than instrumentalists, could not be played with the technology of the time nor synchronised with the images of the film. Impossible to perform for traditional musicians given the complexity of the writing and the speed of the tempo, this original score would never have been performed during the composer's lifetime.
Presented at the same time as the so-called Kiesler version of the Ballet mécanique, the first version to be screened in 1924 in Vienna, this mechanical orchestra is composed of period instruments, Vorsetzer mechanical pianos, xylophones, percussion instruments, but also period mechanical sounds such as aircraft propellers and various bells. Thanks to the technical means of the 21st century, these instruments are played fully automatically by computer robots. Thus, the researcher and musician Winfried Ritsch has revived this daring musical work, which is close to the Dadaist aesthetic, to offer a contemporary version while remaining faithful to the original spirit. Giving the impression of random writing, Winfried Ritsch has restored the revolutionary freedom of Antheil's work while emphasizing the virtuosity of the score, a masterpiece of the musical avant-garde of the 1920s.
On the occasion of the exhibition "Fernand Léger and the cinema", come and experience the exceptional encounter of the Ballet mécanique with its sound version imagined by George Antheil:
- Short version (10 min 20): approximately every hour, at 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, 16:30 and 17:30.
- Full version (19 min): at 3.30pm
Caution: The Mechanical Ensemble, by its very nature, can be difficult to bear for people with sensitive ears (over 80 decibels). Our agents can give you earplugs on request.
L'Ensemble mécanique, en présence de son concepteur, le musicien autrichien Windfried Ritsch, dans le cadre de l'exposition Léger et le cinéma, au musée national Fernand Léger, Biot. Photo : © DR / musées nationaux du XXe siècle des Alpes-Maritimes, 2022.
Exhibition open every day except Tuesdays and May 1st.
from May 1st to October 31st: from 10 am to 6 pm
1 November to 30 April: 10am to 5pm.
Ticket sales stop 30 minutes before the museum closes.
The entrance ticket includes access to the permanent collection and a multilingual audio guide.
Exhibition rates :
Full price: €7.50
Reduced rate: €6
Group rate (10 people or more): €7 per person