Rare Book & Manuscript Library

George Antheil papers, 1919-1959

Summary Information


The George Antheil Papers are composed primarily of correspondence, both professional and personal.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0037
Bib ID 4078528 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Antheil, George, 1900-1959
Title George Antheil papers, 1919-1959
Physical Description 3.92 linear feet (4 document boxes 2 custom made boxes 1 oversized folder)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.



This colelction is arranged in two series.


Scope and Content

The George Antheil Papers consists primarily of correspondence with a small amount of documents including music scores. Formerly cataloged individuals are listed below. Please note that there is not necessarily correspondence from or to the listed individuals. In some cases, there is only a signature.

Adrian, Gilbert; Antheil, George; Balanchine, George; Bates, Peggy; Bing, Sir Rudolf; Bloach, Ernest; Boulanger, Nadia; Bowles, Paul; Brandt, Carl; Britten, Benjamin; Bullitt, William C.; Buñel, Luis; Cage, John; Calder, Alexander; Cocteau, Jean; Copland, Aaron; Cowell, Henry; Cravath, Paul D.; Dali, Salvador; Dallapiccola, Luigi; Davies, Joseph; DeMille, Cecil B.; Dorati, Antal; Erskine, John; Ferrer, José; Fiedler, Arthur; Germain, André; Gershwin, George; Goldovsky, Boris; Golschmann, Vladimir; Goossens, Eugene; Grainger, Percy A.; Hanson, Howard; Heap, Jane; Hecht, Ben; Hemingway, Ernest; Hindemith, Paul; Hoover, J. Edgar; Hopper, Hedda; Hotchner, Aaron Edward; Huebsch, Ben W.; Hutcheson, Ernest; Jeritza, Maria; Joyce, James; Kahn, Otto; Kierstein, Lincoln; Knight, Eric M.; Kostelanetz, Andre; Koussevitzky, Serge; Kramer, Stanley; Krenek, Ernest; Lambert, Constant; Léger, Fernand; Leinsdorf, Erich; Lenya, Lotte; Léon, Paul; Lewis, Wyndham; Lieberson, Goddard; Lin, Yutang; Luening, Otto; MacLeish, Archibald; Malko, Nicolai; Michonze; Milhaud, Darius; Miró, Joan; Monotti, Francesco; Mitropoulos, Dimitri; Monteux, Pierre; Moore, Douglas; Norris, Charles G.; Ormandy, Eugene; O'Sullivan, John; Picasso, Pablo; Post, Marjorie Merriweather; Putnam, George P.; Reed, Ruth; Reiner, Fritz; Reiter, Max; Rhee, Syngman; Riegger, Wallingford; Schnitzler, Arthur; Selznick, David O.; Sessions, Roger; Sternberg, Constantin von; Stoessel, Albert F.; Stokowski, Leopold; Stravinski, Igor; Szell, George; Tanner, Allen; Taylor, Deems; Thompson, Randall; Van Vechter, Carl; Wallenstein, Alfred F.; Weaver, Harriet Shaw; Weill, Kurt; Winchell, Walter

  • Series I: Correspondence, 1919-1959

    Series I contains letters exchanged between George Antheil and his colleagues. Many of the correspondents are conductors, music directors, and other individuals involved in the music business. There are also letters from some of George's companions during his time in Europe, such as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and Kurt Weill. The correspondence with Constantin von Sternberg illustrates Sternberg's admiration for Antheil as a young musician while the letters with Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist illustrate Antheil's financial strain and his need for recognition. Several of the letters are from or to his wife, Böske.

  • Series II: Subject Files, 1919-1955

    This small series holds articles, printed material, such as a music program, and several scores. Of interest are the documents relating to Antheil's piece Railroad Theme in which he claims that his work has been plagiarized.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Unpublished music may not be photocopied without permission. Authorization to perform the music of George Antheil must be obtained from Music Sales Corporation, 225 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003. Phone (212) 254 2100.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); George Antheil papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Custodial History

Donation by Peter Antheil, 1984.

Purchase from Peter Antheil, 1990.

Gift of Mrs. Mira Gerstmann, 1989.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Antheil, Peter; Purchase. Method of acquisition--Gift; Purchase (297-11/23/87); Date of acquisition--12/31/1984. Accession number--M-84-12-31.

Collection of 78 letters, postcards and notes from famous friends of George Antheil: Source of acquisition--297-3/16/90. Method of acquisition--Purchase; Date of acquisition--03/16/1990.

Papers: Source of acquisition--297-3/16/91. Method of acquisition--Purchase; Date of acquisition--03/16/1991. Accession number--M-91-03-16.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Processed RE/BC 04/01/1988.

Collection of 78 letters, postcards and notes from famous friends of George Antheil Processed MJT 04/02/1990.

Papers Reprocessed Lea Osborne 2010/07/27.

Papers Processed HR 10/29/1991.

Collection was part of AMI digitization, 2021. It was noted that the collection contains 2 cassettes in Box 6, but no cassette was found within the collection.

Revision Description

2009-07-07 File created.

2010-07-27 xml document instance created by Lea Osborne

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Scores (documents for music) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Antheil, George, 1900-1959 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Avant-garde (Aesthetics) -- France -- Paris Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Composers -- United States -- Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Endocrinology Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Heinsheimer, Hans W., 1900-1993 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Motion picture music Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Music Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Music -- France -- Paris -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Orchestral music Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Pianists -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sternberg, Constantin von, 1852-1924 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Stokowski, Leopold, 1882-1977 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Zimbalist, Mary Louise Curtis Bok, 1876-1970 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical sketch

George Antheil was born on July 8, 1900 in Trenton, New Jersey. His parents were Henry William and Wilhelmine Huse Antheil. Although Antheil claimed to be of Polish descent, he was actually German and grew up speaking both German and English. He attended Trenton Central High School, but there is no indication that he graduated. Antheil studied piano lessons at an early age and in 1919 began to study with Constantin Ivanovich Edler von Sternberg at the Sternberg School of Music. He also briefly studied piano at the Settlement Music School. In his autobiography, Bad Boy of Music, Antheil claimed to have been a student alternately at the Curtis Institute of Music and what he refers to as the "Curtis Settlement School" which did not exist. Both of these statements were untrue.

Antheil traveled around Europe as a concert pianist playing "modern music" as well as his own compositions. Antheil became friends with many of the important intellectuals of that time, including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound. During this time, and for quite a few years after, Antheil was financially subsidized by Mary Louise Curtis Bok (who founded the Curtis Institute of Music). While in Europe, Antheil met a student named Böski Marcus from Hungary. They married in 1925. Antheil's best known piece during the 1920s was a composition entitled Ballet Mécanique scored for piano and percussion. The American premiere of this piece was deemed a failure and Antheil's reputation was never the same.

In the 1930s, Antheil moved to California and concentrated on writing film scores for such directors as Man Ray and Cecil B. DeMille. He continued to compose symphonies during this time. His 1953 opera, Volpone, opened to mixed reviews, but Antheil continued to write.

In addition to composing, George Antheil was interested in writing in general. He was a music critic, contributed columns to Esqure and other periodicals, and wrote two detective novels based on his hobby of studying glandular endocrinology. His autobiography, Bad Boy of Music, was a bestseller. Antheil is also credited to co-inventing (with Hedy Lamarr) a torpedo guidance system.

George Antheil died of a heart attack in 1959.