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George Crumb

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Biography

American modern composer George Crumb is known for his innovative means of composition, including his use of numerology and new playing techniques to generate keyboard and orchestral pieces like Ancient Voices of Children (1970). Other works of note include his madrigals, as well as his composition Vox Balaenae for flute, cello and piano. Crumb first attended college in his hometown of Charleston, West Virginia, at Mason College of Music. He married Elizabeth May Brown in May of 1949 (they went on to have three children), and received his degree the next year. Crumb went on to earn his Master's at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, where he studied under Eugene Weigel. He then studied with Boris Blacher for a year at Berlin's Hochschule für Musik (1954-55), after which he learned from Ross Lee Finney at the University of Michigan, earning a D.M.A. in 1959. By this time, Crumb had already taught theory and analysis at Virginia's Hollins College, and served as assistant professor in piano and composition at the University of Colorado, Boulder. From 1964-65, he was composer-in-residence at SUNY's Buffalo Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, after which he began his tenure with the University of Pennsylvania where he worked up from assistant to full professor. From 1983 until his retirement in 1997, Crumb was the Annenberg Professor of the Humanities. He has received many prestigious awards including a Fullbright Scholarship, a Rockefeller grant, two National Institute of Arts and Letters grants, two Guggenheim grants, the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for the commissioned work "Echoes of Time and the River," the 1989 Prince Pierre de Monaco Gold Medal and six honorary degrees. ~ Joslyn Layne

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Born:

October 24, 1929 in Charleston, WV

Genre
Years Active:

'50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Influencers

Contemporaries