Composer:  George Crumb


Title:  An Idyll for the Misbegotten (Images III)


Number of Players:  1 amplified flutist, 3 percussionists

  • • 1. Pair of bongos, 5 toms, African log drum (requiring 2 pitches), small bass drum
  • • 2. Pair of bongos, 5 toms, African log drum (requiring 2 pitches), medium bass drum
  • • 3. Largest bass drum available


Approx. length:  15 minutes


Composer’s Notes:


I feel that “misbegotten” well describes the fateful and melancholy predicament of the species homo sapiens at the present moment in time.  Mankind has become ever more “illegitimate” in the natural world of the plants and animals.  The ancient sense of brotherhood with all life-forms (so poignantly expressed in the poetry of St. Francis of Assisi) has gradually and relentlessly eroded, and consequently we find ourselves monarchs of a dying world.  We share the fervent hope that humankind will embrace anew nature’s “moral imperative.”

My little Idyll was inspired by these thoughts.  Flute and drums are, to me (perhaps by association with ancient ethnic musics), those instruments which most powerfully evoke the voice of nature.  I have suggested that ideally (even if impractically) my Idyll should be “heard from afar, over a lake, on a moonlit evening in August.”

An Idyll for the Misbegotten evokes the haunting theme of Claude Debussy’s Syrinx (for solo flute, 1912).  There is also a short quotation from the eighth century Chinese poet Ssu-K’ung Shu:

“The moon goes down.  There are shivering

birds and withering grasses.”


-George Crumb





Mixed Ensemble

Multi Percussion



Annotated by David Luidens