About this work
The four-movement Symphony No. 4 was written while Antheil was a reporter for the Los Angeles Daily News during World War II. The mood, intent, orchestration, and even rhythmic approach are extremely reminiscent of the style of Dmitry Shostakovich. From the militaristic feeling of the Moderato to the counterpoint in the bitterly ironic Scherzo, the neo-Romantic influence of the Russian composer is strongly felt. The piece is traditionally tonal and rich with memorable melodies. On an emotional level, it is a far cry from the music of the self-proclaimed "bad boy" of modern music (the title of Antheil's autobiography) who led the avant-garde of the 1920s. Virgil Thomson heard the piece as filled "with every kind of joke, acrobatic turn, patriotic reference and glamorous monstrosity." Antheil's friend Leopold Stokowski premiered the work on an NBC Symphony Orchestra broadcast in 1944, and it reportedly was one of the works that led to the parting of the ways between Stokowski and NBC.