The Kennedy Center

George Crumb


George Crumb is an American composer born in Charleston, West Virginia.  He is innovative with a highly individual style. Crumb studied music at home as a child.  His father was a clarinetist and his mother was a cellist.  He began composing during his youth and his first pieces were performed at the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.  He then studied composition at Mason College in Charleston where he received his Bachelor in Music in 1950.
Crumb further studied composition at the University of Illinois, then at the University of Michigan, and in Berlin as a Fulbright scholar from 1955-56.  He received other grants.  He also received a Guggenheim fellowship and a National Institute of Arts and Letters award.  In 1968 Crumb received the Pulitzer Prize in music for Echoes of Time and the River.
As an instructor, Crumb taught at University of Colorado Boulder from 1959-64.  He then joined the music faculty at University of Pennsylvania in 1965 and was made Annenberg Professor of Humanities in 1983.  Crumb is considered a musical universalist.  His works varied from melodic to rough and he felt comfortable in all realms.  His most grandiose work was first performed in 1977, entitled Star-Child, and contained 2 children's choruses, 8 percussion players playing everything from pot lids to iron chains, and a huge orchestra.
George Crumb


  • Four Nocturnes
  • Sonata for Solo Cello
  • Pastorale from Makrokosmos, Vol. 1
  • Winds of Destiny