Described by Nicolas Slonimsky in the Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians as a “significant American composer,” Donald Erb was born in Youngstown, Ohio in 1927. His orchestral music has been played by literally every major orchestra in the United States and by many eminent ensembles in Europe and Australia. He has received major commissions from the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Dallas Symphony and the Houston Symphony among many others. His composition The Seventh Trumpet has been performed more than two hundred times by over fifty orchestras in the United States and abroad, and was chosen as the United States representative to UNESCO in 1970. Among his orchestral works are ten concertos, which have been premiered by such artists as Lynn Harrell, Richard Stoltzman, Stuart Dempster and the brass section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Erb’s early interest in electronic music led to the completion of Reconnaisance, one of the first chamber works for live synthesizer and acoustic instruments. Written in 1965, Reconnaisance was premiered on Music in Our Time in New York with Robert Moog operating the synthesizer. It was presented at Expo ’67 in Montreal and, later, on Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles. Mr. Erb’s chamber music has been performed by major artists around the world at the Warsaw Autumn, Darmstadt and Tanglewood Festivals and by the groundbreaking Group for Contemporary Music. His early experience as a jazz trumpeter has inspired Erb’s many compositions in that medium, including one for jazz great Jim Hall, a longtime friend.
Donald Erb taught composition for over fourty years at such schools as Southern Methodist University, Indiana University, Melbourne University and the Cleveland Institute of Music. He holds the title of Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music where, in 2000, his lasting contributions to the conservatory were celebrated with a concert in his honor and the creation of a scholarship in his name. Over the years, Mr. Erb has been in demand as a visiting lecturer and has given master classes and concerts at well over one hundred colleges, universities and conservatories in the United States. In addition to his work in the classroom, Mr. Erb has served as Composer-in-Residence for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and he authored the major article on orchestration for the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Mr. Erb has not only helped to pioneer the acceptance of electronic sounds in conventional music circles, but has also helped to extend the use of traditional instruments beyond their normal limits. His works often require instrumentalists to play in unusual ranges or in unconventional ways : piano strings may be struck with mallets; trumpet mouthpieces may be removed and played without the trumpet. The total effect is extremely colorful, demonstrating the composer’s expert sensitivity to sound. Although Erb sometimes uses aleatoric methods, his compositions always have form as well as freedom; he never loses control of them. Of his music, Mr. Erb has said: “A craftsman can create entertainment, but you need more than that to create art. You need an emotional, inspirational quality, because in and of itself craft means nothing. There has to be something inside you pushing out or all a person will ever write is a craftsman-like piece. And that’s not quite good enough.”
Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation Solo ConcertoSolo Contrabassoon Part 1:00 Correlations Dance,You Monster To My Soft SongFor Solo Trumpet 6:30 Deja VuSix Etudes for Contrabass Music for Mother BearFor Solo Alto Flut (Or Regular Flute) 4:00 Alto Flute (or C Flute) SonataFor Harp 16:00 Suddenly It’s EveningFor Violoncello Alone 17:00 SummermusicFor Piano Piano Unaccompanied Three PiecesFor The Enterprising Young Flutist 5:00 Three Pieces for Double Bass Alone 6:30 WoodyFor Solo B-Flat Clarinet 11:30 Clarinet Unaccompanied Chamber Ensemble 5 Red Hot Duets 15:00 Contrabassoon Duet A Book Of FanfaresFor Brass Quintet And Then, Toward The End Andante Antipodesfor String Quartet, Percussion Quartet 11:00 Aubade AuraFor String Quartet 15:00 String Ensemble Aura Ii Basspiece Celebration Fanfare ChangesFor Bb Clarinet and Keyboard 10:00 Clarinet with Piano Children’s Song 3:00 Violin Duet ConversationsFor Two Flutes 3:00 Flute Duet Dance Pieces 7:00 Vln. Pno. Tpt. Perc. DialogueFor Violin and Piano Diversion for Two Trumpet in Bb and Percussion Drawing Down The MoonA Sonata for Piccolo and Percussion 15:00 Piccolo with Piano FanfareFor Brass Ensemble and Percussion – Score and Parts Four DuetsFor Trumpets 5:00 Trumpet Duet Four for Percussion 10:00 4Timp. 4Perc. Pno. Cel. Hp. Four Timbre PiecesFor Cello and Bass 14:00 String Duet Harold’s Trip To The Sky Hexagon 5:00 Illawarra MusicBetween The Mountains and The Sea – for Bassoon, Piano, and Page Turner 15:00 Bassoon with Piano MirageFor Flute, Bassoon, C Trumpet, Trombone, Keyboard and Percussion 8:00 Music for Brass Choir 10:00 4 4 3 1 Music for Violin & Piano NebbiolinaFor Organist (Playing Percussion) and Handbell Players 8:30 Phantasma 7:00 Fl./Picc./A.Fl. Ob./E.H. Cb. Hpsd. Quartet 8:00 Fl. Ob. A.Sax. Cb. QuintetFor Violin, Violoncello, Bb Clarinet, Flute, Piano, and Electric Piano 8:00 Chamber Ensemble Reconnaissance RemembrancesFor Two Trumpets 20:00 Sonata SonataFor Solo Violin 15:00 Violin with Piano SonatinaFor B-Flat Trumpet and Piano 5:20 Trumpet with Piano SonneriesFor Brass Choir Brass Ensemble String Quartet #1 String Quartet String Quartet #2 String Quartet String Quartet No. 3 20:00 String Quartet String TrioFor Violin, Electric Guitar, and Violoncello – Full (Large) Score Chamber Ensemble Sunlit Peaks and Dark ValleysFor Violin, Clarinet In Bb, and Piano 16:30 Chamber Ensemble The Devil’s Quickstep 9:00 Fl./Picc./G Harmonica, Vln. Hp./Slide Whistle, Cl./B.Cl./C and Cs Harmonicas, Vcl./A( Harmonica, Kbd. Perc. The Last QuintetFor Woodwind Quintet – Score and Parts 8:00 Woodwind Quintet The Rainbow SnakeFor Trombone, Two Percussionists, and Keyboards 10:00 Chamber Ensemble The Saint Valentine’s DayBrass Quintet 12:00 Brass Quintet Three Pieces Brass Quintet and Piano Three Pieces 13:00 Harp and Percussion Ensemble Three PoemsFor Violin and Piano To Warsaw With Love Trio Trio for Two Views of Space and Time 17:00 Solo Vln.; Hp. Kbd. 2Perc. Amplification Vii Miscellaneous Watchman Fantasy Orchestra Bakersfield Pieces 10:00 3 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str. Christmas Music 7:00 3 2 2 2 – 2 2 1 0; 2Perc. Pno. Cel. Hpsd. Hp. Str. Concerto for Orchestra 20:00 3 3 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Kbd. Hp. Str. Cummings Cyclefor Mixed Chorus and Orchestra 8:00 3 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Pno. Cel. Str. EvensongLaus amicorum (In Praise of Friends) 21:00 3(Picc./A.Fl.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno.(Synthesizer) Hp. Str. Honor, Honorfor Voice and Strings 5:00 Str. New England’s Prospectfor Triple Chorus, Children’s Choir (Opt.), Narrator and Orchestra 30:00 16 Harmonicas, Solo A.Sax. 3 2 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Hp. Str. Prismatic Variations 15:00 3 3 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Kbd. Hp. Str. and approx. 100 Children in Audience Ritual Observances 32:00 3(Picc.) 3 4 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Kbd.(Pno. w/Lid removed, Synthesizer) Hp. Str. Solsticefor Chamber Orchestra 12:00 2Picc. 2E.H. 2B.Cl. 2Cbsn. – 2 2 0 0; Timp. Perc. Str. Sonneries 15:00 3 2 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Hp. Str. The Dreamtime 9:00 3 2 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Kbd. Hp. Str. plus 4Perc.4Tbn. in Audience The Seventh Trumpet 16:00 3 3 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno./Cel. Hp. Str. Treasures of the Snow 10:00 3 2 3 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Str. Orchestra with Soloist(s) Chamber Concertofor Piano and Small Orchestra 11:00 Solo Pno.; Picc. Fl. 2Ob. Bsn. 2Hn. Tpt. Tbn. Str. Concertantfor Harpsichord and Strings 6:00 Hpsd., Str. Concerto for Brass and Orchestra 19:00 3 2 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Kbd. Hp. Str. Concerto for Cello and Orchestra 13:00 Solo Vcl.; 3 2 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Cel.(Pno.) Str. Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra 13:00 Solo Cl.; 2(Picc.) 2 3 2(Cbsn.) – 2 2 2 0; Timp. 2Perc. Kbd. Hp. Str. Concerto for Contrabassoon and Orchestra 13:00 Solo Cbsn.; 3 2 3 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno.(El.Pno.) Cel. Org. Hp. Str. Concerto for Keyboards and Orchestra 16:00 Solo Kbd.; 3 2 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str. Concerto for Percussionist and Orchestra 10:00 Solo Perc.; 3 2 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Pno. Hp. Str. Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra 17:00 Solo Tbn.; 3 2 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Str. Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra 15:00 Solo Tpt.; 3 2 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno.(El.Pno.) Hp. Str. Concerto for Violin and Orchestra 25:00 Solo Vln.; 3 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. Klangfarbenfunk Ifor Rock Group and Pre-recorded Tape and Orchestra 16:00 Rock Group: Gtr. (A.Fl.), Fender Bass (T.Sax), Hn. Tbn. El.Org. (El.Pno.), Perc.
Orch.: 2 2 3 3 – 2 2 2 1; Hp. (Amp.) Timp. Perc. Str.
Band / Wind Ensemble Cenotaph (for E. V.)for Symphonic Band 9:00 Compendiumfor Band 5:00 Concert Piece I Reticulationfor Band 4:30 Space Music Concert Band Symphony for WindsHigh School or College Wind Ensemble or Band 10:00 Chorus God Love You Now Kyrie Work with Electronics / Fixed Media Autumnmusic 20:00 3 2 2 2 – 4 2 3 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str. El.Tape Music for A Festive Occasionfor Orchestra and Audience 7:00 3 2 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Str.;El. Tape; 20-40 Audience Volunteers with Water Goblets Imitating Glass Harmonicas SouvenirA Multi-Media Work for Instruments, Abstract Slides, Dances and Tape 8:10 StargazingFor Band With Electronic Sounds 3:00 Piccolo, Flute 1, Flute 2, Slide Whistle, 2 Clarinets 1 in Bb, 2 Clarinets 2 in Bb, 2 Clarinets 3 in Bb (Slide Whistle), Bass Clarinet in Bb, Bassoon (opt.), Alto Saxophone 1 in Eb, Alto Saxophone 2 in Eb, Tenor Saxophone 1 in Bb (Slide Whistle), Tenor Saxophone 2 in Bb (Slide Whistle), Cornet 1 in Bb, Cornet 2 in Bb, Cornet 3 in Bb (Slide Whistle), Horn 1 in F, Horn 2 in F, Trombone 1, Trombone 2, Basses, Piano, Timpani, Glockenspiel, Percussion 1, Percussion 2, Percussion 3 The Purple Roofed Ethical Suicide ParlorFor Wind and Electronic Tape – Full Score and Parts (Does Not Include Cd) 1015 Concert Band
Few composers today know the orchestra and its possibilities as expertly as Mr. Erb does. Along with this, and his heightened sense of making an orchestra come alive, he has something to say.
–John Ardoin, The Dallas Morning News
In a world overpopulated by cookie-cutter composers, Erb is an original.
–Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland
Erb is one of the most vigorous, vital and constructive forces in American music today. He knows how to write a tough piece, the sort of music you might expect born in a town best known for steel mills. He is not afraid of giving form and substance to his work by using the conventions of tonality, but his writing is harmonically very free and imaginative.
–Robert C. Marsh, Chicago Sun-Times
A BOOK OF FANFARES
Erb’s music is not ‘about’ anything, except the exploration, development, and interplay of musical ideas. His musical constructs are so full of energy, craft and logic that they come to be about the much larger issues art addresses.
–Joseph Rothstein, The Honolulu Advertiser
No other composer has such a keen ear for unusual sonorities; Erb turns combinations which appear ridculous on paper into subtly colored ensembles.
–James H. North , Fanfare
CONCERTO FOR BRASS AND ORCHESTRA
This is a thoughtful work, a sensitive work, a wonderfully imaginative work, but it also is a big, attention-grabbing, marvelously soul-satisfying score that makes you want to cheer.
–Robert C. Marsh, Chicago Sun-Times
CONCERTO FOR CLARINET AND ORCHESTRA
Far from coming away from this work recalling a theme or two, one is left with a feeling of exhiliration and exhaustion, of having witnessed a spectacle that defies unaided comprehension.
–Michael Bryant, Clarinet and Saxophone
CONCERTO FOR VIOLIN AND ORCHESTRA
What Mozart is to melody, Erb is to orchestral color. Mozart can make a melody sing, but Erb can make an orchestra sparkle.
–Jeff Kaczmarczyk, Grand Rapids Press
CONCERTO FOR VIOLINCELLO AND ORCHESTRA
This is music with character, music that holds up to scrutiny…What endures is the solidity of its structure, that sureness of its pacing, the sheer effectivenss of its gestures.
–James Wierzbicki, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
They share a characteristic of Erb’s best work which I can only describe as an inner life; one feels oneself to be in the presence of a living, breathing animal, sinuous and muscular, and of enormous vitality. It is a feeling one gets from “Le Sacre du printemps,” although Erb’s music is totally different from Stravinsky’s. This is awe-inspiring music, which stretches the boundaries of the listener’s imagination. It is not for the faint of heart.
–James H. North , Fanfare
The important thing is that our ears are stretched an our imaginations stimulated; now that is something worth celebrating…
–Robert Finn, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
STRING QUARTET NO. 2
I know of no other Erb work of such sheer sonic beauty.
–James H. North , Fanfare
SYMPHONY FOR WINDS
Music of earth-shattering intensity and suspense is never in abundant supply. But whenever a sonic jolt is needed, we know we can turn to Donald Erb. The composer…is almost obscenely skillful at forcing the listener to sit up and take notice…For all of its crashing sonorities, the 11-minute symphony also contains writing of unusual subtlety. Erb never seems to be at a loss for spicy ideas that add flavor to the soup. He doesn’t waste anything, and his language builds firm layer upon layer.
–Donald Rosenberg, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
THE SEVENTH TRUMPET
…orchestrated with extreme brilliance and has a great deal of character…a whiz-bang of a piece, the work of a composer who knows exactly how to get what he wants and, furthermore, a work that has real communicative power.
–Harold Schonberg, New York Times
…Erb has become a master of the long line and of developmental thematic treatment – something the former avant-garde tends to have trouble with.
–D. Moore, American Record Guide
CRI/New World Records (NWCR593); February 1, 2007
Performer(s): Koch String Quartet; Voices of Change; John White, harpsichord
Work(s): Sonata for Clarinet and Percussion
The Rainbow Snake
DONALD ERB: STRING QUARTET NO. 3
CRI/New World Records (NWCR857); February 1, 2007
Performer(s): Audubon Quartet; Jeffrey Krieger, cello; Bertram Turetzky, double bass; James Stern, violin, Audry Andrist, piano
Work(s): String Quartet No. 3
Suddenly It’s Evening
Three Pieces for Double Bass Alone
Azica Records (ACD71229); February 7, 2006
Performer(s): Karel Paukert, Organ
Crystal Records (CD942); March 12, 2002
Performer(s): Verdehr Trio
Work(s): Sunlit Peaks and Dark Valleys
SOLSTICE; EVENSONG; CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA
Koch International Classics (3-7417-2H1); March 17, 1998
Performer(s): New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
Work(s): Concerto for Orchestra
SUNLIT PEAKS AND DARK VALLEYS
CRI/New World Records (80537); January 1, 1997
Performer(s): Verdehr Trio; Boatright, piano; Powell, clarinet; Anthony and Spencer, trumpets; Kondonassis, harp; Gregory Fulkerson, violin
Sonata for Harp
Sonata for Solo Violin
Sunlit Peaks and Dark Valleys
ERB: CONCERTO FOR TROMBONE; CONCERTO FOR VIOLIN; CONCERTO FOR CLARINET
Koss Classics (KC3302); August 15, 1995
Performer(s): Grand Rapids Symphony, Catherine Comet, cond.
Work(s): Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
Summit Records (DCD127); June 1, 1995
Performer(s): Summit Brass
Work(s): Sonneries for Brass Choir
Albany Records (TROY092); April 16, 1995
Performer(s): Cavani Quartet; Gregory Fulkerson, violin, Audrey Andrist, piano and synthesizer; Lynn Harrell, cello; Bradford Buckley and Gregg Henegar, contrabassoons
Work(s): Aura II
Five Red Hot Duels
String Quartet No. 2
DRAWING DOWN THE MOON
CRI/New World Records (80457); January 1, 1994
Performer(s): University Circle Wind Ensemble, Gary Ciepluch; Stuart Dempster, trombone; Ross Powell, clarinet; Jan Gippo, piccolo; Kirk Brundage, percussion
Work(s): …And Then, Toward the End…
Cenotaph (for E.V.)
Drawing Down the Moon
Symphony for Winds
WORKS BY DONALD ERB
CRI/New World Records (80415); January 1, 1992
Performer(s): St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin; Lynn Harrell, cello
Work(s): Concerto for Brass and Orchestra
Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra
THE LONDON PHILHARMONIC, CELEBRATES AMERICAN COMPOSERS
Leonarda Records (LE331); May 25, 1989
Performer(s): London Philharmonic, Harold Farberman, cond; Gregg Henegar, solo contrabassoon
Work(s): Concerto for Contrabassoon and Orchestra
THE INFERNAL MACHINE / OGOUN BADAGRIS / SEQUOIA / PRISMATIC VARIATIONS
Nonesuch Records (79118); January 1, 1986
Performer(s): St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Work(s): Prismatic Variations
THE COMPOSERS CONSORTIUM
Spectrum Records (SR-195); January 1, 1985
Performer(s): Voices of Change
Work(s): The Devil’s Quickstep
CHRISTMASMUSIC, SPATIAL FANFARE, AUTUMNMUSIC, CONCERTO FOR TROMBONE
First Edition Records (LS 772); January 1, 1980
Performer(s): Louisville Orchestra
Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra
CLEVELAND COMPOSERS GUILD
Crystal Records (S531); January 1, 1976
Performer(s): Cleveland Orchestra
Work(s): Harold’s Trip to the Sky
SYMPHONY OF OVERTURES / THE SEVENTH TRUMPET / CONCERTO FOR SOLO PERCUSSIONIST
Turnabout Records (TV 34433S); January 1, 1973
Performer(s): Dallas SO, Donald Johanos, cond; Marvin Dahlgren, perc
Work(s): Concerto for Solo Percussionist and Orchestra
The Seventh Trumpet
DIVERSION FOR TWO / PHANTASMA / STRING TRIO / INSECTED SURFACES
Opus One Recordings (No. 1); January 1, 1966
Performer(s): Percussion – Tele Lesbines; Trumpet – Roger Murtha; Double Bass – Bertram Turetzky; Flute [Alto], Piccolo Flute – Nancy Turetzky; Harpsichord – John White; Oboe, English Horn – Fred Korman; Cello – Jo…
Work(s): Diversion for Two
CRI/New World Records (NWCRL323)
Work(s): Three Pieces
CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF MUSIC, LIVE CONCERT OF DEC 8, 1976
Golden Crest (GCCL202)
Performer(s): Cleveland Institute of Music
MUSIC FROM MEADOWS
Redwood Records (ES-28)
Performer(s): Cello – Gayane Manasjan; Clarinet – Ross Powell; Conductor – Donald Erb; Flute, Harmonica – Harvey Boatright; Orchestra – Voices Of Change; Piano, Electric Piano – Jo Boatright; Violin – Ronald Neal
MUSIC OF CLEVELAND COMPOSERS
Truemedia Records Ltd. (D90121)
Performer(s): Karel Paukert, organ
NASHVILLE CONTEMPORARY BRASS QUINTET
Performer(s): Nashville Contemporary Brass Quintet
Work(s): The St. Valentine’s Day Brass Quintet
2000: Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music – scholarship in his name
1970: United States representative to UNESCO
Composer-in-Residence for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Composer-in-Residence for St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
for String Quartet and Percussion QuartetAutumnmusic
for Orchestra and TapeBakersfield Pieces
for OrchestraChristmas Music
for Harpsichord and StringsCummings Cycle
for Mixed Chorus and OrchestraEvensong
Laus amicorum (In Praise of Friends)
for OrchestraPrismatic Variations
for OrchestraRitual Observances
for Chamber OrchestraStargazing
for Band with Electronic SoundsThe Devil’s Quickstep
for Mixed EnsembleThe Dreamtime
for OrchestraThe Seventh Trumpet