Discipline: Music Composition

George Crumb

Discipline: Music Composition
Region: Philadelphia, PA

Edward MacDowell Medalist: 1995

George Crumb (1929 - 2022) was an American composer of avant-garde music. He was noted as an explorer of unusual timbres, alternative forms of notation, and extended instrumental and vocal techniques. Examples include a seagull effect for the cello (e.g. Vox Balaenae), metallic vibrato for the piano (e.g. Five Pieces for Piano), and using a mallet to play the strings of a contrabass (e.g. Madrigals, Book I), among numerous others.

After initially being influenced by Anton Webern, Crumb became interested in exploring unusual timbres. He often asked for instruments to be played in unusual ways and several of his pieces, although written for standard chamber music ensembles, such as Black Angels (string quartet) or Ancient Voices of Children (mixed ensemble), call for electronic amplification. Crumb, the recipient of the 1995 Edward MacDowell Medal, defined music as "a system of proportions in the service of spiritual impulse."