George Crumb (1929 -   )

An American composer, combined study at American universities with study in Berlin.  His compositions reflect a tendency to relate traditional formalities with very extreme demands on technical resources.  Exceptional combinations of electronic instruments and conventional instruments, as well as electrically amplified instruments, result in extraordinary tonal effects.  This interest in unusual sound qualities demands that his vocal forces sing microtonal intervals, shriek, hiss, whisper, and produce other non-traditional vocal sounds.  Works such as "Night of the Four Moons," for alto flute, banjo, electric cello, and percussion (1969);  "Songs, Drones and Refrains of Death," for baritone, electric guitar, electric double bass, electric piano, and percussion (1968);  "Ancient Voices of Children" a song cycle for mezzo-soprano, boy soprano, oboe, mandolin, harp, electric piano, and percussion; and "Lux aeterna for Five Masked Players," for soprano, bass flute, sitar, and two percussion players (1971) are representative of Crumb's interest in such sound effects.  In addition to writing for groups instruments with vocalists, he has written extensively for piano.  "Zeitgeist" (1988) is for two amplified pianos.  An "Idyl for the Misbegotten," for amplified flute and three percussionists (1986), combines electronically altered and traditional sounds.  Crumb is on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania.