David Crumb was born in 1962 into a musical family. His father is world-renowned composer George Crumb; his sister, Ann Crumb, is well known as a singer/actress who has appeared on Broadway, and is now actively involved in performances of contemporary music. David Crumb studied cello and piano from an early age. Later, he pursued advanced training in cello at the Eastman School (from 1980-83) before ultimately switching his focus to composition. His first important teacher, Samuel Adler, provided the initial spark that inspired him to pursue this new direction. After graduating from Eastman, he enrolled in graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied composition with Jay Reise, Richard Wernick, Chinary Ung, and Stephen Jaffe. In 1987, Crumb received a fellowship to attend the Tanglewood Music Center where he attended master classes held by Lukas Foss and Oliver Knussen. Shortly thereafter, he traveled to Jerusalem, Israel to study composition and counterpoint with Russian-born composer Mark Kopytman. While attending the Rubin Academy, Crumb composed what he now considers to be his first mature work: Joyce Songs for mezzo-soprano, flute, clarinet, and cello (1989). Crumb received his first major commission from the Chicago Civic Orchestra (with support from the ASCAP Foundation); the resulting work, Clarino, was premiered in Chicago’s Symphony Hall June 1991, and served as Crumb’s dissertation, for which he was awarded a Ph.D. in 1992.
Over the years, Crumb’s music has been performed throughout the United States and abroad. His orchestral works have been performed by the Utah Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, and the Chicago Civic Orchestra; his chamber works by the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Orchestra 2001, the Cassatt Quartet, the Parnassus Ensemble, Voices of Change, Music at the Anthology, The Chicago Ensemble, Nextet, Musiqa, Bent Frequency, Third Angle, Network for New Music, Percussion Plus Project, Café MoMus, Quattro Mani, and many others. A recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, he has received commissions from Portland Piano International, the University of Houston Percussion Ensemble, the Fromm and Barlow Foundations, the Los Angeles Symphony New Music Group, the National Association of Wind and Percussion Instructors, and the Bowdoin International New Music Festival. He has held residencies at the Yaddo and MacDowell artist colonies and participated in numerous festivals including La Biennale di Venezia, Cincinnati Conservatory’s “Music 2005,” and Bowling Green State University’s 21st Annual New Music & Art Festival. Crumb has served as composer-in-residence at the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, and was the featured guest composer at Washington State University’s “2005 Festival of Contemporary Art Music.”
Crumb’s music is available on compact disc recordings—most notably, his Variations for Cello and Chamber Ensemble, performed by cellist Ulrich Boeckheler and the Orchestra 2001 (C.R.I./New World); his compositions for two pianos, Harmonia Mundi and The Whisperer, performed by Quattro Mani (Innova); and Red Desert, featuring premiere recordings of four works (Bridge Records).
Crumb is the recipient of numerous honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Residency Award, an Aaron Copland Award, and a Los Angeles Symphony “L.A. Composers Project 2” Award. His composition Mood Sequence was awarded the 2014 Heckscher Prize from Ithaca College.
Crumb joined the music faculty at the University of Oregon in 1997, where he continues to serve as Professor of Composition and Theory.
For more information, visit the composer’s personal website.
Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation Chamber Ensemble Variationsfor Cello and Chamber Ensemble 20:00 Solo Vcl.; 2(Picc. A.Fl.) 1(E.H.) 1(Eb) 1 – 1 0 0 0; 2Perc. Pno. Hp. 2Vln. Vla. Vcl. Cb. Orchestra Clarinofor Orchestra 14:30 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 4(EbCl. A.Cl. B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno. Str. Vestige of a Distant Timefor Chamber Orchestra 12:00 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 1 1; Perc. Pno. Str.
…attractive, accessible, imaginative, well-crafted…
–Robert C. Marsh, Chicago Sun-Times
[David Crumb] evinces a keen sense of the expressive uses of sound-collage and repetition. “Clarino” is visceral in its excitement.
–John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune
Crumb…showed talents for imaginative and delicate textures and for putting an eloquently soft period to a piece…
–Stephen Wigler, Baltimore Sun
…expressive and beautiful.
–American Record Guide
…a glowing work, sumptuous in its sound.
–Robert Carl, Fanfare
…the major prize on the disc … how can you argue with its intoxicating range of instrumental color?
–David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer
David Crumb’s “Variations”…basks in a tonal language of appealing vibrancy and poetic appeal … Crumb’s animated unfolding of materials has a forceful voice of its own.
–Donald Rosenberg, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Orchestra 2001 picks a winner for cello … Any cellist would be glad to get his fingers on “Variations,” which takes about a half-hour to perform and conveys so particular and gripping a sound world one is hardly aware of time passing.
–Lesley Valdes, Philadelphia Inquirer
CHANT DES ROCHERS; MUSIC OF OUR TIME: VOL. 4
CRI/New World Records (NWCR847); September 26, 2000
Performer(s): Orchestra 2001, James Freeman, conductor, Ulrich Boeckheler, cello
2001: Discover America V Competition for New American Chamber Works
2001: Fromm Music Foundation (commission)
1998: Guggenheim Fellowship
1997: MacDowell Colony Artist Residency
1997: National Association of Wind and Percussion Instructors Composition Project Award (commission)
1997: Riverside Symphony International Composer Readings
1997: Yaddo Colony Artist Residency
1996: Margaret Fairbank Jory Copying Assistance Program
1996: Meet the Composer Fund
1995: New England Reed Trio Composition Competition, Third Prize
1993: Margaret Fairbank Jory Copying Assistance Program
1992: A.S.C.A.P. Foundation Young Composer Grants
1992: A.S.C.A.P./Raymond Hubbell Music Scholarship Award
1992: Los Angeles Symphony “L.A. Composers Project 2” Award
1992: Orchestra Society of Philadelphia “New Orchestral Project, Philadelphia 1992”
1991: Bowdoin Summer Music Festival Scholarship
1991: University of Pennsylvania Hilda K. Nitzshe Prize
1991: Vanguard Arts Associates Competition, Third Prize
1990-1991: University of Pennsylvania Graduate Teaching Assistantship
1989: A.S.C.A.P. Foundation Young Composer Grants
1989: Aaron and Abby Schroeder Fellowship/Margaret Lee Crofts Fellowship, Tanglewood Music Festival
1988: University of Pennsylvania David Halstead Prize
1987: University of Pennsylvania Helen L. Weiss Prize