November 4, 1998 |
All composers create. A few invent. Connecticut Yankee Charles Ives pioneered a polytonal style, Californian Harry Partch made unique operas with his own odd instruments, New Yorker John Cage organized noise into concept-music. And who before West Virginia-reared, Philadelphia-claimed George Crumb would electrify a string quartet that also plays with water? Three sets of stemware are bowed by the violinists and violist in the quartet Black Angels (Thirteen Images from a Dark Land)
September 29, 2009 |
Like Brahms, George Crumb prematurely announced himself done with composing - this was a decade or so ago. And, like Brahms, he ended retirement quickly when newly inspired by performers, in this case Orchestra 2001. The ensemble, led by James Freeman, became Crumb's personal outlet for an astonishing outpouring of music that draws on his West Virginia upbringing. Samples of that remarkable series of six American Songbooks were performed Friday at the Kimmel Center and Sunday at Swarthmore College in concerts marking Crumb's impending 80th birthday on Oct. 24. The program had the feeling of a festschrift, its first half including works by James Primosch, Jay Reise and Anna Weesner, colleagues when Crumb taught at the University of Pennsylvania.
April 1, 2015 |
The elements of George Crumb's "American Songbook" series have arrived in such quick succession in recent years that a return to them at Orchestra 2001's Crumb@85 celebration Sunday at the Curtis Institute's Gould Hall revealed few shocks but a more cultivated sense of poetic meaning. The sixth songbook, Voices From the Morning of the Earth (2007), occupied the program with performers who have long lived with this music: his daughter Ann Crumb, baritone Randall Scarlata, Marcantonio Barone on piano, and a five-member ensemble playing something like 150 percussion instruments.
March 30, 1990 |
The American premiere of George Crumb's latest composition, Quest, has been scheduled by Speculum Musicae for tonight's all-Crumb concert at the Settlement School. Guitarist David Starobin has the featured role in the piece, which is scored for harp, two percussionists, double bass and saxophone. Starobin said Crumb planned five movements for the work but had completed only three; these, all slow movements, will be heard tonight. Two movements received their world premiere in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in December; the third was finished three weeks ago. "It's an amazingly beautiful piece," Starobin says of Quest, adding that when it was performed in Amsterdam, it received a long standing ovation.
October 3, 2002 |
If the vocal part to George Crumb's . . . Unto the Hills somehow got divorced from its instrumental accompaniment, you might think that the composer had just come back from a backwoods filching adventure. Crumb, as a native of West Virginia (the drawl is still there), reached back into youth for all of the work's melody. Each of the vocal movements comes straight out of Appalachia. "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" is there, as are "All the Pretty Horses" and "Ten Thousand Miles. " But this is George Crumb we're talking about, the influential composer whose 30-year-old Black Angels for string quartet still startles listeners by asking musicians to bow wine and champagne glasses, shout out numbers in various languages, and otherwise misbehave.
October 9, 2004 |
What makes a caricature so funny is that the exaggeration points out a truth, and for George Crumb, the quick sketch came at the end of a concert Thursday night when Orchestra 2001 surprised the composer with a round of "Happy Birthday," Crumb style. Everyone knew when the dark spread of dissonant piano notes was struck that what was to come would be Crumb, and breaking into the familiar tune to note his 75th only heightened the perceived authenticity. Of course, the audience at the Perelman Theater had just been primed with the composer's latest overlaying of trademark Crumb sounds on familiar tunes in an exploration of indigenous American song.
August 2, 2005 |
The familiar tune "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" arrives in the new collection of songs by Philadelphia composer George Crumb without its usual air of triumph: You're more likely to envision the soldier's pallbearers. Unfolding like a funeral march, the song is groaned as much as it's sung while rusty chains are rattling on a bass drum. "It's war tunes," says soprano soloist Barbara Ann Martin, "with the twist of a knife. " The Winds of Destiny: Songs of Strife, Love, Mystery and Exultation, the latest Crumb world premiere by the Philadelphia contemporary-music ensemble Orchestra 2001, arrives at the prestigious Salzburg Festival on Thursday - an important event for composer and orchestra.
October 23, 1994 |
His music is dark and introspective, but anyone who knows him knows his sense of humor. He grew up listening to Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony, but his compositions have musicians plucking the strings of pianos and playing instruments that Toscanini probably never dreamed of. From his studio at his home in Media, he composes music played around the world. And tomorrow, when George Crumb turns 65, he will celebrate with others, who are celebrating his music. Crumb; his wife, Liz, and one of his sons, Peter, will be in Houston, where the music department at the University of Texas is throwing the composer a birthday party this weekend in the form of concerts and seminars.
October 9, 1993 |
What would Sergei Rachmaninoff have said about the eerie whistles and enchanted tinklings filling his namesake hall at the Moscow Conservatory yesterday evening? Would Rachmaninoff, who composed some of the moodiest, most soulful music known, have admired America's master of musical moods and mysteries, George Crumb? And what would Rachmaninoff, whose affection for the Philadelphia Orchestra is well-documented, have thought about one of Philadelphia's smaller musical gems, Orchestra 2001?
October 5, 1993 |
While the sounds of gunfire rang from blocks away like some demonic staccato yesterday, Philadelphia composer George Crumb, 63, looked at eight music students and professors who, despite martial law, had gotten past the police and into the Moscow Conservatory. They wanted to hear the scheduled master class, no matter what. "Sometimes," Crumb told them, "it's good to hear a little music and forget about the other things. " And so after Albert Lehman, chief of the conservatory's composition department, told that group that "we are very impressed that you've managed to come here during this extraordinary and dangerous time, but perhaps this is also a very romantic atmosphere," Crumb gave his class.