Bridge Records, his long-standing recording label, announced his death. It stated that he had died at home in Media, Pa. with his family. There was no cause of death.
Crumb's landmark 1970 work Black Angels, Thirteen Images from Darkland (Images I), was a protest against the Vietnam War's horrors. It used spoken word, bowed glasses, and electronics. After hearing Black Angels, David Harrington, a violinist, was so inspired that he created the Kronos Quartet in 1973 to create new music and sounds for his traditional string quartet.
David Bowie , a decade later, declared the first recording of Black Angels to be his favorite album. He wrote: "It's a study of spiritual annihilation... It scared the bejabbers out. (An excerpt of this piece was also used in the soundtrack to The Exorcist.
Crumb's 2004 work The Winds of Destiny retorted to the subject of political divide and the anguishes of warfare. For which he composed Civil War-era songs. The work was staged by Peter Sellars, theater director. Dawn Upshaw sang the role of soprano and was accompanied by an amplified piano player and a percussion group.
Sellars noticed how Crumb had reached out to unresolved aspects of American history in a 2011 interview. Sellars stated that the songs reflect the Civil War period's loneliness, bitterness and sourness. These songs were American songs written during the nation's divisions. They reflect the emotional intensity and longing for unity. The material is a deep dive into an unhealed wound in American psyche.
Crumb returned to American spirituals and hymns in his later years. In fact, Crumb published more than a dozen arrangements of American folk music under the title American Songbook.
Inspiration came from many other sources as well, such as the colors and timbres of Debussy’s music and the poetry of Federica Garcia Lorca. He also found inspiration from the calls of humpback Whales in his 1971 Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale), compositions for electric flute, amplified piano, and electric cello.
In 1968, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Echoes of Time, the River. He also received a 2001 Grammy Award, for his 1977 work Star-Child. This piece was written for soprano, children’s choir, a bell ringer, and large orchestra.
Crumb was born in Charleston, W.Va. on Oct. 24, 1929. His father was a clarinetist, and his mother was a cellist. After graduating from the Mason College of Music and Fine Arts, his hometown (which was later part of the University of Charleston), he received a master's from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He then traveled to Berlin to study at the Hochschule fur Musik as a Fulbright fellow. In 1959, he received his doctorate of composition from the University of Michigan.
Crumb's notated scores were so visually stunning that they were often featured in museum exhibits. One piece from his 1973 collection Makrokosmos II is a written score. It's in the shape, which is a peace symbol. Crumb stated that he was liberated by the use of non-standard notation in his music. This is not only for him but also for those who performed his music. He said, "They don't think of aligning parts vertically." They're letting go of this idea.
From 1965 to 1995, Crumb attracted many students from both the private and university worlds. Many of his students became prominent composers, including Jennifer Higdon and Osvaldo Giolijov.