George Crumb: Scores at an Exhibition

A concert with Orchestra 2001 featuring works by composer George Crumb and the artworks that inspired his music


Fields of Knowledge
  • Artistic legacies
  • Performance

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Orchestra 2001


Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Slought and Orchestra 2001 are pleased to present George Crumb: Scores at an Exhibition, a concert featuring works by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer George Crumb and the artworks that inspired his music, on Wednesday, May 24, 2023 from 7:30-9pm. The concert will feature Orchestra 2001 with pianist Marcantonio Barone as soloist, performing three singular compositions by George Crumb including Dream Sequence (Images II), (1976), Agnus Dei from Makrokosmos II, (1973), and Metamorphoses, Book II (2018-2020). These works will be performed alongside Crumb's beautifully hand-notated, intricate musical scores. This event is free and open to the public; donations are also welcome through Orchestra 2001's website.

In an interview with Edward Strickland, George Crumb drew parallels between his perception of sound and the mountains of his native West Virginia, where he commented that "on a quiet summer evening, sounds from the other side of the river waft over, you see, because there are hills on both sides. You can sometimes hear sounds from the mouths of the river. It's a special characteristic." We experience this spatial dimension in George Crumb's haunting Dream Sequence (Images II), the first work to be performed in the concert. Written in 1976, the piece is scored for violin, cello, piano, percussion, and an offstage glass harmonica that requires two players. The glass harmonica, marked "quasi subliminal" in the score, hovers as a spectral presence throughout the entire piece. It provides the kind of eternal, cosmic canvas we hear in Charles Ives' The Unanswered Question (1908/1930–1935). Notated on a circular score, Dream Sequence (Images II) unfolds as a series of fleeting, dreamlike images. In the score, the composer provided the following descriptive note: "Poised, timeless, breathing, as an afternoon in late summer."

The second work featured in the concert is from Volumes I and II of George Crumb's Makrokosmos, which is subtitled 12 Fantasy Pieces after the Zodiac. Each piece is dedicated to an individual born under that birth sign. "Agnus Dei," meaning "lamb of God," represents the goat sign Capricorn, and was harmoniously chosen to look like a peace symbol. Like Book I of George Crumb's final large-scale keyboard cycle, Metamorphoses, Book II: Ten Fantasy-Pieces (After Celebrated Paintings) comprises ten movements for solo piano, each inspired by one of the composer's favorite works of visual art. In this work, the final work featured in the concert, his efforts to render these paintings in sound lead Crumb to reach beyond the conventional resources of the instrument once more. The insides of the piano are amplified, plucked, struck, and "prepared" with foreign objects, and the pianist doubles on a handful of percussion instruments, speaks, whispers, and blows audibly as part of the 38-minute performance. Crumb acknowledges the inspiration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (1874). But while Mussorgsky tried to convey the images he saw in his music, Crumb had a different focus. According to the liner notes, Crumb responded: "to the ethos, the characteristic tone of the painting, and often to the title as well."

read more

Orchestra 2001 has always treasured their close, decades-long association with Crumb, who recently passed away on February 6, 2022. They commissioned, premiered, and recorded all seven of his American Songbooks, over 350 minutes of his awe-inspiring music based on American folk music. They have presented these pieces and many of Crumb's other pieces at Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress, the Salzburg Festival in Austria, and at prominent venues and festivals in Europe, Cuba, the Arabian Gulf, and Asia. Less formally, they have shared Crumb's music with large, new, attentive audiences on an indoor basketball court at a rural mining community in Appalachia, at an 800-person potluck dinner on a reservation in Arizona's Navajo Nation, and at multiple events at their home base at Cherry Street Pier in Philadelphia.

Orchestra 2001 is a collective of adventurous, virtuoso performers dedicated to the music of our time. The ensemble strives to be an international leader in connecting diverse audiences with music of the 20th and 21st centuries, engaging new listeners through exhilarating concerts, innovative artistic collaborations, and enriching community partnerships in Philadelphia and beyond. Currently in its 35th year, the ensemble has performed local, national, and world premieres of important works including all seven volumes of Pulitzer Prize-winning George Crumb's American Songbooks; John Luther Adams' Inuksuit and Across the Distance; and iconic composer/rock musician Frank Zappa's 17 classical compositions, The Yellow Shark at The Fillmore. In March 2023, they performed the local premiere of the Miles Davis/Gil Evans mid-century fusion of jazz and classical music, Birth of the Cool.

George Crumb (1929-2022) was one of the most frequently performed contemporary composers as well as an esteemed professor for more than 30 years in the Department of Music at the University of Pennsylvania. The winner of both Grammy and Pulitzer prizes, Crumb's music often juxtaposes contrasting musical styles, ranging from music of the western art-music tradition, to hymns and folk music, to non-Western music. Many of his works include programmatic, symbolic, mystical and theatrical elements, which are often reflected in his beautiful and meticulously notated scores. His seven-part song cycle, the American Songbooks were all composed for, premiered by, and recorded by Orchestra 2001. George Crumb's music is published by C.F. Peters and an ongoing series of "Complete Crumb" recordings, supervised by the composer, is being issued on Bridge Records.

Marcantonio Barone earned a Bachelor's Degree from the Curtis Institute of Music. He received prizes at the 1985 Busoni and 1987 Leeds International Piano Competitions. Barone returned in 1990 as soloist on a Philadelphia Orchestra subscription series. He has also performed as soloist with the Saint Louis Symphony, Houston Symphony, Moscow Symphony, and City of Birmingham Symphony in the UK, among others. Barone performs frequently as a member of the Lenape Chamber Ensemble, Orchestra 2001, and many other groups. He is on the faculty of Swarthmore College, and Chair of the piano department at the Bryn Mawr Conservatory of Music. A specialist in contemporary American music, he has played world premiere performances of works by major composers including George Crumb, including Metamorphoses II, one of the composer's final works and featured in this program.

"In a broader sense, the rhythms of nature, large and small - the sounds of wind and water, the sounds of birds and insects - must inevitably find their analogues in music."

I believe that music surpasses even language in its power to mirror the innermost recesses of the human soul."

-- George Crumb