George Crumb

American composer of modern and avant-garde music. Born 24 October 1929
George Crumb
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1929-10-24
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/429dd05f-8567-48c9-af00-1338b2a9140c
George Crumb

George Crumb Biography (BBC)

George Crumb was born into a musical family in Charleston, West Virginia, on 24 October 1929. He recalls listening to Appalachian folk music as a child, and its traces can sometimes still be heard among the multifarious musical references in his mature scores. Crumb’s main instrument was the piano but composition quickly became a preoccupation. After gaining a Masters degree at the University of Illinois, Crumb enrolled for doctoral studies with Ross Lee Finney at the University of Michigan. Finney’s meticulous approach to musical notation is reflected in the exquisite calligraphy that distinguishes Crumb’s manuscripts. Crumb’s doctoral studies yielded his first published compositions, the Bartók-inspired Sonata for solo cello (1955) and the more Schoenbergian Variazioni for orchestra (1959).

From 1959 to 1964 Crumb taught the piano at the University of Colorado. Here he wrote his groundbreaking Five Pieces for Piano (1962). With their Webern-like brevity and refinement, together with their seamless integration of traditional pianism and innovative performing techniques (including harmonics, unusual use of the pedals and playing directly onto the strings), these short pieces establish the musical principles on which all Crumb’s later works are built.

During the 1960s, Crumb rapidly established himself as one of America’s most important and original young composers. His orchestral piece Echoes of Time and the River (Echoes II) (1967) was particularly acclaimed, winning a Pulitzer Prize. Among many unusual playing techniques, this score requires players to whisper a phrase from the poetry of Federico García Lorca, the great Spanish writer whose work has had a profound influence on Crumb. The concentration and intensity of Lorca’s poetry, not to mention its lyricism, controlled violence and often macabre imagery, finds an eerily precise parallel in Crumb’s sound-world.

From 1962 to 1971 almost everything Crumb composed was in some way Lorca inspired. These include some of his most important works: the four books of Madrigals (1965–9), Songs, Drones and Refrains of Death (1968) and Ancient Voices of Children (1970). Like most of his works, these pieces are scored for small ensembles, usually around six players, with performers often required to play several instruments. The instrumental requirements are frequently unusual: toy piano, banjo, musical saw and tuned wine-glasses are just some of the many exotic visitors to Crumb’s ensembles.

Essentially a miniaturist – and an extremely slow worker – Crumb has only written one really large work, the apocalyptic Star-Child (1977) scored for immense vocal and instrumental resources and requiring at least four conductors.

In recent years, Crumb has concentrated mainly on vocal music, with a series of American Songbooks (2001–8), scored for one or two voices, piano and percussion. They remain charged with the qualities that have always distinguished Crumb’s output: freshness of invention, directness of utterance, profound strangeness and intense musicality.

Profile © John Pickard



George Crumb Tracks

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George Crumb
Black Angels
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Black Angels
George Crumb
Threnody II
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Threnody II
George Crumb
The Persistence Of Memory (Metamorphoses Book 1)
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The Persistence Of Memory (Metamorphoses Book 1)
George Crumb
Makrokosmos II: Corona Borealis - Aquarius
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Makrokosmos II: Corona Borealis - Aquarius
George Crumb
Black Angels - God Music
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Black Angels - God Music
George Crumb
Let it be forgotten
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Let it be forgotten
George Crumb
Vox Balaenae
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Vox Balaenae
George Crumb
Canticle of the Holy Night
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Canticle of the Holy Night

Canticle of the Holy Night

Performer
Pavel Dombrovsky
George Crumb
Little Suite For Christmas A.D. 1979; canticle of the Holy Night
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Little Suite For Christmas A.D. 1979; canticle of the Holy Night
George Crumb
Little Suite For Christmas Ad 1979 For Piano
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Little Suite For Christmas Ad 1979 For Piano
George Crumb
Makrokosmos, Volume I - Part Three
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Makrokosmos, Volume I - Part Three
George Crumb
Sonata for Solo Cello - 2nd mvt
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Sonata for Solo Cello - 2nd mvt
George Crumb
Four Nocturnes - Nos. 2 and 3
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Four Nocturnes - Nos. 2 and 3
George Crumb
Mundus Canis (A Dog's World) (Five Humoresques)
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Mundus Canis (A Dog's World) (Five Humoresques)

Mundus Canis (A Dog's World) (Five Humoresques)

Performer
Kristinn H. Arnason
Petur Gratarsson
George Crumb
The Sleeper
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The Sleeper
George Crumb
Processional
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Processional
George Crumb
Quest
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Quest
George Crumb
Makrokosmos
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Makrokosmos

Makrokosmos

Performer
Sarah Nicolls (Inside-out piano)
George Crumb
Makrokosmos Night-Spell I (Sagittarius)
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Makrokosmos Night-Spell I (Sagittarius)

Makrokosmos Night-Spell I (Sagittarius)

Performer
Sarah Nicolls (Inside-out piano)
Ann Crumb
Voices from the Heartland: no.7 - Beulah Land
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Voices from the Heartland: no.7 - Beulah Land
Ruby Hughes
Apparition: Elegiac Songs I-III / Vocalise 1 (feat. Julius Drake)
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Apparition: Elegiac Songs I-III / Vocalise 1 (feat. Julius Drake)
Susan Rotholz, James Baker, Dawn Upshaw, George Crumb & David Starobin
Night of the Four Moons: I. La luna está muerta, muerta...
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Night of the Four Moons: I. La luna está muerta, muerta...

Night of the Four Moons: I. La luna está muerta, muerta...

Performer
Susan Rotholz, James Baker, Dawn Upshaw, George Crumb & David Starobin
Yvar Mikhashoff
Makrokosmos, Vol 2 - VII: Tora! Tora! Tora!
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Makrokosmos, Vol 2 - VII: Tora! Tora! Tora!
Kronos Quartet
Black Angels: I. Departure
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Black Angels: I. Departure
George Crumb
The Magic Circles of Infinity (Makrokosmos - volume 1)
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The Magic Circles of Infinity (Makrokosmos - volume 1)
Toros Can
Morning Music (Genesis II)
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Morning Music (Genesis II)
George Crumb
Dream Sequence – excerpt
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Dream Sequence – excerpt
George Crumb
Devil-music and Danse Macabre from "Black Angels"
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Devil-music and Danse Macabre from "Black Angels"
George Crumb
Sonata, first movement, Fantasia
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Sonata, first movement, Fantasia
George Crumb
Black Angels [excerpt]
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Black Angels [excerpt]
George Crumb
Night Of The Four Moons
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Night Of The Four Moons
George Crumb
Star Child - Adventus Puerorum Luminis
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Star Child - Adventus Puerorum Luminis
George Crumb
Night from Three Early Songs (1947)
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Night from Three Early Songs  (1947)
George Crumb
Apparition
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Apparition
George Crumb
Todas las Tardes en Granada, Todas las Tardes se Muere un Nino
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Todas las Tardes en Granada, Todas las Tardes se Muere un Nino
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