Obituary: Composer George Crumb, 92

Posted on: February 7, 2022

“George Crumb, a composer who filled his works with a magpie array of instrumental and human sounds and drew on the traditions of Asia and his native Appalachia to create music of startling effect, died on Sunday at his home in Media, Pa. He was 92,” writes Vivien Schweitzer in Sunday’s (2/6) New York Times. “Mr. Crumb beguiled audiences with his own musical language…. ‘Black Angels’ (1970), one of Mr. Crumb’s best-known works and a reaction to the Vietnam War, … is scored for an amplified string quartet…. The grimly claustrophobic music of the first movement, ‘Threnody I: Night of the Electric Insects,’ was deemed sufficiently scary to be used on the soundtrack for the horror film ‘The Exorcist.’ … A recording of whale songs made by a marine scientist inspired his ‘Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale)’ for electric flute, cello and amplified piano (1971)…. Multiple conductors preside over Mr. Crumb’s ‘Star-Child’ (1977), a major work set to Latin texts for soprano, solo trombone, children’s choir and large orchestra.… He set [Federico García] Lorca’s verse to music in … several song cycles…. Mr. Crumb’s … students included Christopher Rouse, Osvaldo Golijov and Jennifer Higdon, all successful composers.” He is survived by sons David (a composer) and Peter; a sister, Ruth Crumb; and his wife, Elizabeth May (Brown) Crumb, a pianist.