David Maslanka (1943-2017)

By |August 7th, 2017|

David Maslanka died during the night of August 6th, 2017 at home. He had been diagnosed with a severe form of colon cancer in June. His wife, Alison, died on July 3rd of this year. He declined rapidly following her passing. He is survived by his children, Stephen, Matthew, and Kathryn.

Maslanka in China

By |August 6th, 2016|

On July 13, I traveled to Beijing as the guest of the 19th Asia Pacific Band Directors Association (APBDA) Conference. My host was Li Fangfang, founder and conductor of the Beijing Wind Orchestra, the first independent professional wind ensemble in the Peoples’ Republic of China. The conference was a huge event, involving over 50 […]

Honorary Doctorate from St. Olaf College

By |August 5th, 2016|

David Maslanka was honored with an honorary doctorate by St. Olaf College. Here’s the entire ceremony:

The following is the full text of Dr. Timothy Mahr’s and David Maslanka’s remarks.

Dr. Timothy Mahr’s remarks [starts at 11:50]

On the nomination of the faculty, and with the approval of the St. Olaf Board of Regents, it is my […]

Angel of Mercy – working with Dr. Tim Mahr and the St. Olaf Band

By |March 8th, 2016|

Feb. 4 2016: traveled from New York City to Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, New Jersey, hosted by Chris Wilhjelm.

The St. Olaf Band had been on tour and had done at least six performances of the piece before I heard the music for the first time at Chris Wilhjelm’s school. We had only […]

January Update

By |January 19th, 2016|

Midwest 2015

Maslanka Press exhibited at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago this past December for the first time. We were excited to welcome so many enthusiastic friends to the back corner of the McCormick Center. We expect this to be the first of many appearances at festivals and conventions across the United States and around […]

8 Questions for David Maslanka

By |January 2nd, 2016|

The following is from an email exchange with Natasha Rotondaro, a grade 12 student from Emily Carr Secondary School in Vaughn, Ontario
Natasha Rotondaro: What is your musical background?

David Maslanka: I began clarinet studies at age nine. As a high school student I took lessons at the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA, and played […]

Maslanka Experiences: Sam Ormson

By |December 17th, 2015|

This is a guest post from Sam Ormson, director of bands at Mountain View High School, Vancouver, Washington. We asked him to talk about his experiences with David’s music. He shared this remarkable essay.
June 2015: 1st movement, Symphony 9. As the final piano notes decay into the silence of our auditorium, I lower my […]

Accessible Works, Updated Music, and WASBE 2015 Wrap-up

By |July 23rd, 2015|

Works for Younger Wind Ensembles
We’ve just posted a two-part series going over David’s more accessible works for wind ensemble. Read part 1, talking about how directors might think about selecting new music and part 2, a listing (in order of difficulty) of works with commentary by David himself.
New Works
Saint Francis (2015) 18′ Grade 5-6 for wind ensemble. […]

Some Thoughts on Choosing Music for Younger Wind Ensembles

By |July 16th, 2015|

These are David’s thoughts on choosing music. You can find the annotated repertoire list here.
I have never been in charge of a school band program, but over the past 40-plus years I have seen hundreds of programs close-up as guest composer. While I do understand the need to teach specific aspects of music, I […]

David Maslanka: Works for Younger Wind Ensembles

By |July 16th, 2015|

This is the annotated repertoire list. Read David’s thoughts on selecting music for younger wind ensembles.

Here are more than twenty works for wind ensemble, arranged in approximate ascending order of difficulty, with commentary by David Maslanka
Prelude on a Gregorian Tune (1980) 4’ Grade 2
Prelude is a modest and brief piece for young band. It […]

The Nature of Consciousness: Correspondence

By |June 9th, 2015|

We’d love to encourage you to write to David with questions or comments that you have about his music. He loves hearing your thoughts and feelings. Get in touch on the Contact page.

June 6, 2015: Mark Weidenaar wrote David with the following question:

How does your knowledge of consciousness impact the music you write, and […]

David Maslanka and the Natural World: Three Studies of Music for Wind Ensemble (2014)

By |May 12th, 2015|

Kate Sutton’s Master’s thesis is a study on David’s Third, Fourth, and Ninth Symphonies with special emphasis on their themes on nature. She explores the influence that moving to Missoula, Montana had on David for Symphony No. 3, his connection to the “powerful voice of the Earth” in Symphony No. 4, and the themes of […]

Recording the Wind Ensemble Music of David Maslanka

By |February 25th, 2015|

Some considerations for recording engineers and wind ensemble directors. By Mark J. Morette, Mark Custom Recording Service

David Maslanka is one of the most important composers of wind ensemble music. Few others have produced such an amazing volume of incredible works. His music is a delight for the audience, a treat for musicians to perform, and makes an […]

Remarks before the Trombone Concerto Premiere

By |January 30th, 2015|

Remarks given at the premiere performance of the Concerto for Trombone and Wind Ensemble, October 2007; Miami, Florida

In the words of the Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, “We are life, we are inextinguishable.” The reasons for living or dying, especially dying, and especially when someone close to us passes, are all too often inscrutable. […]

Restoring the Trombone Concerto’s original Hard Mode

By |January 30th, 2015|

In the second movement of David Maslanka’s Concerto for Trombone and Wind Ensemble, there is an extended and demanding technical section from m. 108 to m. 256, about four minutes of nearly continuous playing. It rests in the upper tessitura of the trombone range, mostly between D3 and C4, and alternates between very loud […]

Getting Maximum Benefit from the Maslanka Chorales: a practical guide for directors

By |October 1st, 2014|

The Maslanka Collected Chorales are an extraordinary tool to help develop blend, balance, intonation, and ensemble cohesion in groups ranging from large symphonic bands and orchestras to small chamber groups or sectionals. With a daily 5-10 minutes per rehearsal you will hear a significant improvement in melodic and harmonic pitch awareness in your players.

Dr. […]

Maslanka Symphony No. 5: Conducting Via Lucid Analysis Technique (2005)

By |September 30th, 2014|

Dr. Christopher Werner’s doctoral dissertation uses David’s Symphony No. 5 as a means of exploring a new score study and conducting performance method, the Lucid Analysis Technique, which is of his own creation. As explained in the dissertation, Werner’s technique takes various musical events and elements in Symphony No. 5 and uses them as symbols for use […]

Expressive Interpretation in David Maslanka’s “Eternal Garden: Four Songs for Clarinet and Piano” (2013)

By |June 10th, 2014|

Dr. Kimberly Wester’s doctoral dissertation on David’s Eternal Garden focuses on the expressive interpretation of the work, providing performance considerations and an overview of research on music and emotion. Biographical information on David is also included with information on his creative process, as well as discussions with the commissioner of the work, Dr. Peggy Dees-Moseley.

Expressive Interpretation in David Maslanka’s […]

Music for an Atomic Age: David Maslanka’s “Eternal Garden: Four Songs for Clarinet and Piano” (2014)

By |June 3rd, 2014|

Dr. Kip Franklin’s doctoral dissertation on David’s Eternal Garden: Four Songs for Clarinet and Piano begins with an overview of David’s life, his compositional style, and the commissioning process for this work. Part two presents a thorough analysis of each of the four songs, followed by transcripts of interviews with the composer and a list of David’s […]

The Use of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Chorales in David Maslanka’s Quintet for Winds No. 3 for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon (2013)

By |June 2nd, 2014|

Elisa Moles’ thesis on David’s third Quintet for Winds focuses specifically on his use of Bach chorales. Her thorough analysis of the quintet displays David’s use of chorales as an integral part of the composition. Through her research, she explains David’s incorporation of thematic, harmonic, and formal chorale elements as a catalyst for his original composition, using […]

David Maslanka’s Symphony No. 3: A Relational Treatise on Commissioning, Composition, and Performance (2004)

By |June 1st, 2014|

Dr. Brenton Alston’s doctoral dissertation on David’s Symphony No. 3 focuses on how the work came to be commissioned and David’s compositional approach to writing the work. The research presents a thorough analysis of each of the composition’s five movements with concluding performance considerations. Finally, the appendices provide interview transcripts, facsimiles of the original program notes, an article […]

A Conductor’s Examination of Three Concertos with Wind Ensemble (2012)

By |June 1st, 2014|

Dr. Travis Cross’ doctoral dissertation includes a chapter on David’s Song Book for Flute and Wind Ensemble and a transcript of an interview with the composer. His research presents an analysis of the Song Book’s formal structure, harmonic scheme, and use of Bach chorales. Cross further discusses David’s approach to writing the work, the interaction between the […]

An Analytical Study of David Maslanka’s A Child’s Garden of Dreams (1994)

By |May 31st, 2014|

The five movements of A Child’s Garden of Dreams are inspired by five dreams selected from Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols. Dr. David Booth’s doctoral dissertation on A Child’s Garden of Dreams provides an analysis of each of the work’s five movements as a narrative. Booth’s explanations of musical gestures and structure in the composition reference the five dreams while providing the context of […]

The Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano (1988) by David Maslanka: An Analytical and Performance Guide (2007)

By |May 21st, 2014|

Dr. Camille Olin’s doctoral dissertation on David’s Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano provides a performer’s guide to the sonata, as well as an analysis of the harmonic structure, harmonic language, and unifying features of the work. An interview with David is also included, providing a discussion of the work from the composer’s perspective.

The Sonata for Alto Saxophone […]

A Conductor’s Insight Into Performance and Interpretive Issues in Give Us This Day by David Maslanka (2010)

By |May 21st, 2014|

Dr. Lauren Ann Denney Wright’s doctoral dissertation on Give Us This Day focuses on the technical, expressive, and interpretive issues a conductor might face when programming this work. The dissertation also gives a brief biographical sketch, a discussion of David’s compositional process, and the history of how this work came to be written.

A Conductor’s Insight Into […]

David Maslanka’s Symphony No. 7 : An Examination of Analytical, Emotional, and Spiritual Connections Through a “Maslankian” Approach (2011)

By |May 21st, 2014|

Lane Weaver’s doctoral dissertation on David’s Symphony No. 7 provides an analysis of each movement while providing an inside look into the creation of this symphony. The author also provides thorough biographical information and an extensive discussion of the “Maslankian” approach to composition.

David Maslanka’s Symphony No. 7 : An Examination of Analytical, Emotional, and Spiritual […]

What young composers need (2013)

By |May 1st, 2014|

This is an email message sent 13 April 2013 to Roger Briggs, composition chair, and Chris Bianco, director of bands, at Western Washington University. David had just returned from working with the wind ensemble and student composers.
Hi Roger,

I am very glad that we had some time together, and thanks again for sharing your beautiful […]

Remarks before the premiere of A Child’s Garden of Dreams, Book 2

By |April 17th, 2014|

Remarks made 7 December 2008 in Boone, NC before the premiere of A Child’s Garden of Dreams, Book 2, by the Appalachian Symphony Orchestra, James Allen Anderson, conductor.

I’m not going to say too much about the music here, but I do want to comment on how things go. The original Child’s Garden of Dreams […]

Further notes on Music Performance (1999)

By |April 10th, 2014|

Two quotes from the scientist and philosopher Rene Dubos in his 1962 book The Torch of Life:

“A fully developed human being cannot be thought of as an isolated creature. His or her potential attributes become fully realized only when he or she functions within a social matrix, on which he or she depends, against […]

Music and Healing (1999)

By |April 7th, 2014|

Remarks given before a performance of Montana Music: Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano.
Music is specifically healing. I know that I am alive today, and essentially well, because of it. Healing through music is not always miraculous in the instantaneous sense, although a powerful musical experience can change a life in an instant. I […]

Thoughts on Composing (1998)

By |April 6th, 2014|

Excerpts from letters to young composers
You ask about the soul nature of music, and are music and soul the same thing. Music is one of the expressions of soul. A person does not have to be consciously aware of soul connection for soul force to be expressed through that person. The conscious mind and […]

Dangerous Times (1994)

By |April 5th, 2014|

Remarks given on 29 March 1994 at Michigan State University before a performance of Symphony No. 4
It goes without saying that we live in dangerous times, and that the human family is threatened by forces within itself that it does not understand. Community is shattered, individuals are alienated, hunger, slaughter, and oppression continue and […]

Music in Life (2002)

By |April 4th, 2014|

Remarks given on 18 April 2002 at Indiana University School of Music before a performance of the Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble. Other works on the concert included Montana Music: Chorale Variations and Tears.
I want to give a few thoughts about how music acts in our lives. Music making is in the […]

Interview with Russell Peterson (1998)

By |April 2nd, 2014|

Russell Peterson, professor of saxophone at Lawrence University in Appleton WI, interviewed David Maslanka on 30 November 1998 after premieres of Mountain Roads for saxophone quartet, commissioned and performed by the Transcontinental Saxophone Quartet and Song Book for alto saxophone and marimba, commissioned and performed by Steve Jordheim and Dane Richeson there. This interview […]

David Maslanka’s Use of a Chorale Tune in “In Memoriam” (2000)

By |April 2nd, 2014|

Dr. Roy Breiling’s doctoral dissertation covers the use of the chorale tune “Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten” (“If you but trust in God to guide you”) in David’s composition, In Memoriam. The author also includes biographical information as well as an overview of David’s compositional approach and how it relates to his musical style.

David Maslanka’s Use of a […]

An Examination of David Maslanka’s Marimba Concerti: Arcadia II for Marimba and Percussion Ensemble and Concerto for Marimba and Band: A Lecture Recital (1999)

By |March 31st, 2014|

Dr. Michael Varner’s lecture recital on David’s marimba concerti gives an analysis of the musical structure and marimba techniques in Arcadia II and the Concerto for Marimba and Band. The lecture provides insight into influences that have contributed to David’s unique approach to writing for marimba and gives an overview of the wealth of repertoire he has written for this instrument.

An Examination […]

David Maslanka’s Desert Roads, Four Songs for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble: An Analysis and Performer’s Guide (2011)

By |March 24th, 2014|

Dr. Joshua Mietz’ doctoral dissertation on David’s first clarinet concerto, Desert Roads, provides a comprehensive analysis and helpful advice to soloists and conductors performing the work. The author also includes thoroughly researched biographical information essential to understanding the evolution of David’s composing from his early career to the creation of this concerto.

PDF available through the following […]

David Maslanka’s Symphony No. 4: A Conductor’s Analysis with Performance Considerations (2002)

By |March 19th, 2014|

Dr. Stephen Bolstad’s dissertation on David’s Symphony No. 4 gives a thorough analysis and helpful advice to conductors. The author also includes a brief biographical sketch and provides insight into David’s unique compositional approach to this work.

David Maslanka’s Symphony No. 4: A Conductor’s Analysis with Performance Considerations

In the last two decades of […]

The roots and purpose of music (1992)

By |March 16th, 2014|

Remarks given at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Nov.15.1992, before a performance of Symphony No.3.

I want to give a few thoughts on the roots of music and its purpose in human life.

Music comes supposedly from the human heart and mind. These are but two of the vibratory receiving centers of the human organism. The human […]

Composing and its relationship to the community (1993)

By |March 16th, 2014|

I want to talk a bit about the composing process and its relationship to community. I have recently been reading Gerard Manley Hopkins, the great nineteenth-century English poet. Hopkins speaks of the “particularity” of each object and experience. That is, each thing and each experience is unique. Even that one rose, that blade of […]

Some things that are true: Reflections on being an artist at the end of the 20th century (1998)

By |March 16th, 2014|

Society of Composers Incorporated Region VIII Conference, University of Montana at Missoula. Keynote address by David Maslanka – November 20, 1998
As soon as one speaks about “truth” there will be objections. Since we live in time and with change, it can be argued that all values and conditions are relative, and that “true” is […]

A Study of David Maslanka’s Unending Stream of Life (2011)

By |March 9th, 2014|

This is Scott Hippensteel’s excellent dissertation from 2011 on Unending Stream of Life. He situates David’s music in wind ensemble literature, discusses his style, and expertly analyses the piece itself. His recommendations for conductors preparing the work are especially helpful.

A Study of David Maslanka’s Unending Stream of Life

This study presents an overview […]

How many players should perform a piece?

By |February 5th, 2014|

The division between “wind ensemble” and “band” is not clearly defined. A wind ensemble can be anywhere from one player on a part up to a total of 60 or even a few more in the ensemble, meaning multiples of flutes, clarinets, trumpets, trombones, and others. For my wind ensemble scores I have consistently […]

About difficulty

By |February 5th, 2014|

Most of my wind music has been written beyond the grade system. For the pieces that I have written for younger bands (now a fair number), I have composed them paying careful attention to the specific band for which I was writing, rather than the generalization of a grade number. The grading system can […]