Suggestions of a housemaid with a duster

September 7, 2009


‘The very latest came to Steinway Hall yesterday afternoon from Russia via New York…Mr Leo Ornstein ….is a Russian pianist who two years ago began to write ‘futurist’ music for the piano.’

‘Mr. Ornstein is a trick pianist of the first order.   An energetic housemaid with a duster might do some of the things he did, but not nearly all of them.  His facility is amazing, even if it is granted that the actual notes he plays may be the chance of the moment.’

‘Probably the writer of the programme note was write in saying that they are meant to be felt, not analysed.   They are quite unthinkable, but one is stirred by their crudity, their energy, and often by their absurdity.The Times, Saturday, Mar 28, 1914; pg. 6; Issue 40483; col G      A “Futurist” At The Piano. Suggestions Of A Housemaid With A Duster

In 1909 Filippo Tommaso Marinetti published his ‘Manifeste de fondation du Futurisme’,  heralding an approach to the composition and performance of music, art, drama and literature characterised with an impression of speed, violence, militarism, and anarchic energy  kicking against the artistic traditions of the previous centuries,  such as Roman classicism and Italian opera, creating their own mechanical musical instruments , and rejecting all the existing art establishments such as museums and galleries.

At the end of the First World War, the futurist movement moved into turbulent politics with the creation of the Partito Politica Futurista in 1918 [Marinetti writing his Democrazia futuriasta in 1919] ,  shortly to be absorbed into the Fascist movement around 1920, with futurist artists giving the Fascist movement a gloss of  artistic modernism.  

If you would like to learn more about Marinetti and Futurism, please see the resources below.

La futurista by Benedetta Cappa Marinetti shelved at 759.5 MAR/FUT on Level 2

The untameables by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti shelved at 823.8/MAR on Level 2

Marinetti :selected writings /edited, and with an introduction shelved at 709.04033/MAR on Level 2

The genesis of Futurism :Marinetti’s early career and writings 1899-1909 by Günter Berghaus shelved at 809.04/BER on Level 2

Futurist performance /by Michael Kirby ; with manifestos and playscripts translated from the Italian by Victoria Nes Kirby shelved at 792.0945/KIR on Level 2

Italian Futurism

Distruzione Poema Futurista

I manifesti del futurismo

Three Reasons Why Futurism is more Contemporary than Ever – essay by  Marco Bevolo

Literature Online

Web of Science