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Encyclopedia > George Crumb

George Crumb (born October 24, 1929) is an American composer of modern and avant garde music. He is noted as an explorer of unusual timbres. Examples include spoken flute (one speaks while blowing into the instrument) and glass marbles poured onto an open piano. October 24 is the 297th day of the year (298th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 68 days remaining. ... 1929 (MCMXXIX) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... A composer is a person who writes music. ... Modern can simply mean something that is up-to-date, trendy, new, or from the present time. ... Fountain by Marcel Duchamp (signed as R. Mutt. 1917 Avant-garde in French means front guard, advance guard, or vanguard. ... In music, timbre, also timber, (French, IPA /tæmbər/ as in the first two syllables of tambourine) is the quality of a musical note or sound which distinguishes different types of sound production or musical instruments. ...



Crumb was born in Charleston, West Virginia, and began to compose at an early age. He studied music first at the University of Illinois, and then briefly in Berlin before returning to the United States to study at the University of Michigan, from which he received his Ph.D. 1959. Nickname: Motto: Official website: www. ... Music is an art, entertainment, or other human activity which involves organized and audible sound, though definitions vary. ... The University of Illinois is the set of three public universities in Illinois. ... (help· info), IPA: , is the capital city as well as a state of Germany, and also the countrys largest city. ... This article is about the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. ...

Although his scores and recordings sell steadily, Crumb has earned his living primarily from teaching. His first teaching job was at a college in Virginia, before he became professor of piano and composition at the University of Colorado in 1958. In 1965 he began a long association with the University of Pennsylvania, becoming Annenberg Professor of the Humanities in 1983. Some of his most prominent students include Margaret Brouwer, Uri Caine, Osvaldo Golijov, Jennifer Higdon, and Gerald Levinson. Official language(s) English Capital Richmond Largest city Virginia Beach Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 35th 110,862 km² 320 km 690 km 7. ... The University of Colorado (CU) System consists of five campuses: University of Colorado at Boulder University of Colorado at Colorado Springs University of Colorado at Denver University of Colorado Health Sciences Center Fitzsimons campus of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, scheduled to open in 2007 in Aurora on... The University of Pennsylvania (Penn is the moniker used by the university itself; UPenn is also common) is a private, nonsectarian research university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ... Uri Caine is a classical and jazz pianist born in Philadelphia on June 8, 1956. ... Jennifer Higdon (born December 31, 1962) is an American composer of classical music and flutist. ... Gerald Levinson (b. ...

Crumb retired from teaching in 1997, though in early 2002 was appointed with David Burge to a joint residency at Arizona State University. He has continued to compose. David Burge was born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1930. ... Arizona State University (ASU) is currently (as of Fall 2005) the largest university, in terms of student enrollment, in the United States, with a main-campus student body of 51,612. ...

Crumb has been the recipient of a number of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1968 for his orchestral work Echoes of Time and the River. The Pulitzer Prize for Music was first awarded in 1943. ...

Crumb's music

After initially being influenced by Anton Webern, Crumb became interested in exploring unusual timbres. He often asks for instruments to be played in unusual ways and several of his pieces are written for electrically amplified instruments. Anton Webern (December 3, 1883 – September 15, 1945) was an Austrian composer. ... In music, timbre, also timber, (French, IPA /tæmbər/ as in the first two syllables of tambourine) is the quality of a musical note or sound which distinguishes different types of sound production or musical instruments. ...

Crumb's music often seems to be concerned about the theatre of performance as much as the music itself. In several pieces he asks players to leave and enter the stage during the piece. He has also used unusual layouts of musical notation in a number of his scores. In several pieces, the music is symbolically laid out in a circular or spiral fashion. Music notation is a system of writing for music. ... Sheet music is written representation of music. ...

Several of Crumb's works, including the four books of madrigals he wrote in the late 1960s and Ancient Voices of Children, a song cycle of 1970 for two singers and small instrumental ensemble (which includes a toy piano), are settings of texts by Federico Garcia Lorca. Many of his vocal works were written for the virtuoso singer Jan DeGaetani. A madrigal is a setting for 4–6 voices of a secular text, often in Italian. ... 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... A song cycle is a group of songs designed to be performed in sequence as a single entity. ... A musical ensemble is, by definition, a group of three or more musicians who gather to perform music. ... Pooh Poppin Piano -- a diatonic one octave toy piano The toy piano is a musical instrument, made as a childs toy, but which has also been used in more serious musical contexts. ... Federico García Lorca Federico García Lorca (June 5, 1898 - August 19, 1936) was a Spanish poet and dramatist, also remembered as a painter, pianist, and composer. ... Jan (Janice) DeGaetani (July 10, 1933 – September 15, 1989) was an American mezzo-soprano known for her performances of modern vocal compositions. ...

Black Angels (1970) is another piece which displays Crumb's interest in exploring a wide range of timbres. Written for amplified string quartet (referred to as "electric string quartet" by the composer in the score, although the instruments called for are acoustic ones), the players are required to play various percussion instruments and to bow small goblets as well as to play their instruments in both conventional and unconventional ways. It is one of Crumb's best known pieces, and has been recorded by the Kronos Quartet. The resident string quartet of the Library of Congress in 1963 A string quartet is a musical ensemble of four string instruments—usually two violins, a viola and cello—or a piece written to be performed by such a group. ... Percussion instruments are music instruments played by being struck, shaken, rubbed or scraped, hence the percussive name. ... The Kronos Quartet is a string quartet founded by violinist David Harrington in 1973. ...

Another of Crumb's best known works are the four books of Makrokosmos (1972-74). The first two books are for solo piano, the third, known as Music for a Summer Evening, is for two pianos and percussion, and the fourth is for piano four-hands, titled "Celestial Mechanics." The title alludes to the six books of piano pieces by Béla Bartók, Microcosmos, and, like Bartók's work, Makrokosmos is a series of short character pieces. Apart from Bartók, Claude Debussy is another composer Crumb acknowledged as in influence here, although the techniques called for are far from what either of those composers knew. The piano is both amplified and prepared by the placing of objects on and between the strings. On several occasions the pianist is required to sing or shout certain words as well as playing. Makrokosmos was premiered by David Burge, who later recorded the work. Percussion instruments are music instruments played by being struck, shaken, rubbed or scraped, hence the percussive name. ... Béla Bartók in 1927 Béla Viktor János Bartók (March 25, 1881 – September 26, 1945) was a Hungarian composer, pianist and collector of Eastern European and Middle Eastern folk music. ... Claude Debussy Achille-Claude Debussy (August 22, 1862 – March 25, 1918) was a composer of European classical music. ... A prepared piano is a piano that has had its sound altered by placing objects (preparations) between or on the strings or on the hammers or dampers. ... David Burge was born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1930. ...

Crumb's works are published by the C. F. Peters Corporation.


  • Two Duos (1944?) for flute and clarinet
  • Four Pieces (1945) for violin and piano
  • Four Songs (1945?) for voice, clarinet and piano
  • Sonata for piano (1945)
  • Poem (1946)
  • Seven Songs (1946) for voice and piano
  • Gethsemane (1947) for small orchestra
  • Three Early Songs (1947) for voice and piano
  • Alleluja (1948) for unaccompanied chorus
  • Sonata for violin and piano (1949)
  • A Cycle of Greek Lyrics (1950?) for voice and piano
  • Prelude and Toccata (1951) for piano
  • String Trio (1952)
  • Three Pastoral Pieces (1952) for oboe and piano
  • Sonata for viola and piano (1953)
  • String Quartet (1954)
  • Sonata for solo cello (1955)
  • Diptych (1955) for orchestra
  • Variazioni (1959) for large orchestra
  • Five Pieces (1962) for piano
  • Night Music I (1963, revised 1976) for soprano, piano/celeste, and two percussionists
  • Four Nocturnes (Night Music II) (1964) for violin and piano
  • Madrigals, Books I (1965) for soprano, vibraphone, and double bass
  • Madrigals, Books II (1965) for soprano, flute/alto flute/piccolo, and percussion
  • Eleven Echoes of Autumn (Echoes I) (1966) for violin, alto flute, clarinet, and piano
  • Echoes of Time and the River (Echoes II) (1967) for orchestra
  • Songs, Drones, and Refrains of Death (1968) for baritone, electric guitar, electric double bass, amplified piano/electric harpsichord, and two percussionists
  • Night of the Four Moons (1969) for alto, alto flute/piccolo, banjo, electric cello, and percussion
  • Madrigals, Books III (1969) for soprano, harp, and percussion
  • Madrigals, Books IV (1969) for soprano, flute/alto flute/piccolo, harp, double bass, and percussion
  • Ancient Voices of Children (1970) for mezzo-soprano, boy soprano, oboe, mandolin, harp, amplified piano (and toy piano), and percussion (three players)
  • Black Angels (Images I) (1970) for electric string quartet
  • Lux Aeterna (1971) for soprano, bass flute/soprano recorder, sitar, and percussion (two players)
  • Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale) (1971) for electric flute, electric cello, and amplified piano
  • Makrokosmos, Volume I (1972) for amplified piano
  • Makrokosmos, Volume II (1973) for amplified piano
  • Music for a Summer Evening (Makrokosmos III) (1974) for two amplified pianos and percussion (two players).
  • Dream Sequence (Images II) (1976) for violin, cello, piano, percussion (one player), and off-stage glass harmonica (two players)
  • Star-Child (1977, revised 1979) for soprano, antiphonal children's voices, male speaking choir, bell ringers, and large orchestra
  • Apparition (1979) for soprano and amplified piano
  • Celestial Mechanics (Makrokosmos IV) (1979) for amplified piano (four hands)
  • A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979 (1980) for piano
  • Gnomic Variations (1981) for piano
  • Pastoral Drone (1982) for organ
  • Trio for Strings (1982)
  • Processional (1983) for piano
  • A Haunted Landscape (1984) for orchestra
  • The Sleeper (1984) for soprano and piano
  • An Idyll for the Misbegotten (Images III) (1986) for amplified flute and percussion (three players).
  • Federico's Little Songs for Children (1986) for soprano, flute/piccolo/alto flute/bass flute, and harp
  • Zeitgeist (Tableaux Vivants) (1988) for two amplified pianos
  • Easter Dawning (1991) for carillon
  • Quest (1994) for guitar, soprano saxophone, harp, double bass, and percussion (two players)
  • Mundus Canis (A Dog's World) (1998) for guitar and percussion
  • Unto the Hills (2001) for soprano, percussion quartet and piano
  • Eine Kleine Mitternachtmusik (A Little Midnight Music) (2002) for piano
  • A Journey Beyond Time (2003) for soprano, percussion quartet and piano
  • Otherworldly Resonances (2003) for two pianos
  • River of Life (2003) for soprano, percussion quartet and piano
  • Winds of Destiny (2004) for soprano, percussion quartet and piano


  • George Crumb: The Voice of the Whale (1976). Directed and produced by Robert Mugge. Interviewed by Richard Wernick. New York, New York: Rhapsody Films (released 1988).

External links


  • Art of the States: George Crumb four works by the composer

  Results from FactBites:
George Crumb | the LIFE (488 words)
Crumb, the winner of a 2001 Grammy Award and the 1968 Pulitzer Prize in Music, continues to compose new scores that enrich the musical lives of those who come in contact with his profoundly humanistic art.
George Henry Crumb was born in Charleston, West Virginia on 24 October 1929.
George Crumb's music is published by C.F. Peters and the ongoing series of "Complete Crumb" recordings, supervised by the composer, is being issued on Bridge Records.
  More results at FactBites »



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