Crumb: Makrokosmos II

Program Note

George Crumb (b.1929)
Makrokosmos II (1973)

Alluding to Bartók’s Mikrokosmos, the first and second volumes of Crumb’s Makrokosmos bear the subtitle Twelve Fantasy-Pieces after the Zodiac.  They require the pianist to go beyond that which is concrete and comfortable—beyond the security of the keyboard.  For the listener, these pieces toe the line that separates fantasy from reality.  They explore a world in which dreams can seem real and reality an illusion, leaving us to question the sources of otherworldly sounds—whether they are part of Crumb’s plan, or merely aural figments of our own imagination.

Crumb was born into a musical family in Charleston, West Virginia.  After completing a master’s degree at the University of Illinois, Crumb enrolled for doctoral studies with Ross Lee Finney at the University of Michigan. Finney’s meticulous approach to musical notation is reflected in the exquisite calligraphy that distinguishes Crumb’s manuscripts, as evidenced in the last piece of each part of Makrokosmos II

George Crumb, Twin Suns

—Adapted from writings by Laurie Hudicek and John Pickard