George Crumb

George Crumb is known for his experimental use of timbres and stunning manuscript scores. Many of his vocal works explore the rhetoric of America music, especially Apparition, which sets poems of Walt Whitman for voice and piano, as well as his American songbooks, which reimagine traditional American songs with a plethora of percussion instruments. Crumb has also set the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe ("The Sleeper" for mezzo soprano and piano) and Sara Teasdale (3 Early Songs).

Crumb also loves the poetry of Lorca, and many of his vocal works set Lorca's texts.

Photo: George Crumb, Photo by Sabine Matthes, from the C. F. Peters Corporation, 2007

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About

Born in Charleston, West Virginia, George Crumb studied at institutions throughout the United States (as well as Berlin), finishing his doctorate at the University of Michigan. His first teaching job was at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where his compositions began to garner attention, especially Night Music I (1963, for soprano, piano/celesta, and two percussionists).

Crumb took a teaching position at the University of Pennsylvania in 1965 and remained there for 30 years. Crumb was very prolific during his time at Penn, setting the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca more often than any other poet. However, American poetry is also at the heart of his vocal works, such as Apparition (1979, Walt Whitman text) and The Sleeper (1984, Edgar Allan Poe text).

While Crumb’s music is certainly experimental, his delicate use of timbre and echoing of American (and especially West Virginian) traditions makes it accessible to a wide audience. In recent years, Crumb has explored America folk traditions more overtly in his music, with his American Songbooks. The American Songbooks set dozens of American folk and traditional songs using Crumb’s unique approach to sound and instrumentation.

–Christie Finn

Related Information

Recordings

Complete Crumb Edition, Vol. 17

(George Crumb)

2015

Christine Schäfer: My Art of Singing

(George Crumb)

2011

Crazy Jane

(George Crumb, David Leisner and John Musto)

2010

Complete Crumb Edition, Vol. 13

(George Crumb)

2008

Complete Crumb Edition, Vol. 12

(George Crumb)

2007

Voices of Our Time - Dawn Upshaw

(William Bolcom, Ruth Crawford Seeger, John Harbison, George Crumb and Charles Ives)

2000

Ives: Songs | Crumb: Apparition

(George Crumb and Charles Ives)

1993

Jan Degaetani & Gilbert Kalish

(George Crumb)

1987

Songs

Audio

Track:

    Sheet Music

    A Journey Beyond Time

    Composer(s): George Crumb

    Song(s): 1. "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"
    2. "Joshua Fit de Battle ob Jericho"
    3. "Steal Away"
    4. "Oh, a-Rock-a My Soul"
    5. The Pregnant Earth: A Psalm for Noontide (Instrumental Interlude)
    6. "Sit Down, Sister"
    7. "Nobody Knows de Trouble I See"
    8. "Go Down, Moses"
    9. "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child"

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    George Crumb Sheet Music

    Buy via C. F. Peters

    The River of Life

    Composer(s): George Crumb

    Song(s): 1. "Shall We Gather At the River?"
    2. "Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown?"
    3. "Amazing Grace!"
    4. "Give Me That Old Time Religion"
    5. Time is a Drifting River: A Psalm for Daybreak and Morning
    6. "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?"
    7. "One More River to Cross (Noah's Ark: A Humoresque)"
    8. "Nearer, My God to Thee"
    9. "Deep River"

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    The Winds of Destiny

    Composer(s): George Crumb

    Song(s): 1. "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory"
    2. "When Johnny Comes Marching Home"
    3. "Lonesome Road"
    4. "Twelve Gates to the City"
    5. De Profundis: A Psalm for the Night-Wanderer (Instrumental Interlude)
    6. "All My Trials (Death's Lullaby)"
    7. "Go Tell it on the Mountain!"
    8. "The Enchanted Valley"
    9. "Shenandoah"

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    Unto the Hills

    Composer(s): George Crumb

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

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