George Crumb was immensely popular on composers in the 1970s. I remember attending an international contemporary music festival in Boston where I heard music from all over the world. What was amazing was how everyone seemed to be imitating George Crumb. There was a mystical aura around his music. A sense of ceremony and a new kind of musical mood, especially compared to the post-Schoenbergian or post-Webernian music that had been so prevalent at that time. Here is one of the pages from his piano set, Makrokosmos I, this one entitled CAPRICORN, whose score emulates the peace sign. I’m not convinced that this image truly translates to the music, but who cares? I love the way it looks.
This phenomenon, that is the WAY a score LOOKS, became known as augenmusik, or music for the eyes. I’m convinced that the majority of music that has won composition contests over the past four decades, has always LOOKED cool, or at the very least, looked COMPLEX. Complex was cool. I still tell students that if they want to enter contests, don’t think about submitting music that is boring on the first page.