George Crumb Named Musical America Composer of the Year

George Crumb Named Musical America Composer of the Year

The Musical America International Directory of the Performing Arts has announced this year’s 2004 Award recipients. Among them, George Crumb has been named Composer of the Year and composer/trumpeter Wynton Marsalis has been named Musician of the Year. Other winners are: Joseph Flummerfelt, Conductor of the Year; Susan Graham, Vocalist of the Year; Philharmonic Baroque Orchestra, Ensemble of the Year.

The Musician of the Year award, established in 1960, is the oldest and most prestigious of the awards given (the winner is traditionally featured on the cover of the annual Musical America directory). The directory includes articles and artist profiles written by critics and commentators on the contemporary music scene, as well as comprehensive listings, artist managers’ reports, and overviews of 2003 milestones in the international performing arts world.

Composer of the Year: George Crumb

The award to Crumb is especially appropriate recognition as he prepares to celebrate his 75th-birthday year in 2004 with concerts, residencies, and master classes around the country. In the 1960s and 1970s, George Crumb produced a series of compositions that were highly successful, earning the composer numerous international performances, recordings, and awards. Many of these were vocal works based on the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca, including Ancient Voices of Children (1970); Madrigals, Books 1-4 (1965,69); Night of the Four Moons (1969); and Songs, Drones and Refrains of Death (1968). Other major works from this period include: Black Angels (1970), for electric string quartet; Vox Balaenae (1971), for electric flute, electric cello and amplified piano; Makrokosmos, Volumes 1 and 2 (1972, 73) for amplified piano; Music for a Summer Evening (1974) for two amplified pianos and percussion; and Crumb’s largest score–Star-Child (1977), for soprano, solo trombone, antiphonal children’s voices, male speaking choir, bell ringers and large orchestra.

Crumb’s recent works include: Quest (1994) for guitar and chamber ensemble; Mundus Canis (1998) for guitar and percussion; Eine Kleine Mitternachtmusik (2001) for amplified piano; …Unto the Hills (2002) for folk singer, amplified piano and percussion quartet; and Otherwordly Resonances (2002) for two amplified pianos. Just released this month is the seventh volume in Bridge Records’ ongoing series of Crumb’s complete works, supervised by the composer.

George Crumb is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2001 Grammy for Best Contemporary Composition (Star-Child) and a Pulitzer Prize for Echoes of Time and the River in 1968. He was elected as a member to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1975.

Crumb studied at the Mason College of Music in Charleston, the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana under Eugene Weigel, the Hochschule für Musik under Boris Blacher, and the University of Michigan (received the D.M.A. in 1959) with Ross Lee Finney. After teaching at Hollins College, Virginia and at the University of Colorado, Boulder, he took a position on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia in 1958 where he remained until his retirement in 1997.

Musician of the Year: Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis
Photo courtesy Jazz at Lincoln Center

Pulitzer Prize and multiple Grammy Award-winning composer and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is co-founder and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center as well as the driving force in the creation of the organization’s new home in New York’s Time Warner Building, due to open in October 2004. In addition to leading his own septet and the always-touring Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, he is one of today’s most respected teachers and spokesmen for music education.

Born near New Orleans in 1961, Marsalis began his classical training on trumpet at age 12 and entered The Juilliard School in 1979. He soon became recognized as the most impressive trumpeter at the conservatory. He is now on Juilliard’s faculty, in Jazz Studies, and the Board of Trustees. He made his recording debut in 1982, and over the past two decades produced nearly 40 jazz and classical recordings for Columbia Jazz and Sony Classical, winning nine Grammy Awards. In 2003, Marsalis signed with EMI’s Blue Note Records, with his initial recording due out in spring 2004.

Marsalis also devotes a significant amount of time to composing new works, many of which are commissioned from and premiered by JALC. He has written ballets for choreography by Twyla Tharp (Jump Start), Garth Fagan (Citi Movement/Griot New York), the New York City Ballet (Jazz: Six Syncopated Movements and Them Twos), and Judith Jamison for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (Sweet Release). His 1994 oratorio Blood on the Fields was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1997, the first to a jazz artist. For the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center he composed a string quartet ( At the Octoroon Balls) and, taking off from Stravinsky, A Fiddler’s Tale. His most recent work, All Rise (1999), is an evening-length, twelve-part composition commissioned by Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic.

Through JALC education programs, Marsalis conducts master classes, lectures, and concerts for students of all ages and created the Essentially Ellington high school jazz band competition and festival and the newly published Jazz for Young People Curriculum. He was featured in the PBS television production of Marsalis on Music and the NPR series Making the Music, which won a Peabody Award in 1996. In addition, he was named one of “America’s 25 Most Influential People” by Time magazine and one of “The 50 Most Influential Boomers” by Life magazine. In March 2001, Marsalis was awarded the United Nations designation of “Messenger of Peace” by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and in June 2002 he received the Congressional “Horizon Award.”

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