Symphony No. 4

Symphony No. 4 2017-03-13T18:54:06+00:00

Project Description

Wind Ensemble
1993
27 min.

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Listen Now

Illinois State University Wind Symphony, Stephen K. Steele, cond.
On the album Maslanka: Piano Concertos, Testament, Traveler, Symphony No. 4

Illinois State University Wind Symphony, Stephen K. Steele, cond.
On the album David Maslanka: Wind Symphony

Dallas Wind Symphony, Jerry Junkin, cond.
On the album Garden of Dreams

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Preview Score

Instrumentation

Picc Fl-3(3»AFl) Ob-3 EbCl BbCl-3 BCl CbCl Bsn-2 Cbsn ASx-2 TSx BSx | Hn-4 CTpt-3(1»BbPicc) Tbn-3 BTbn Euph-2 Tuba-2 DB | Hp Pno Org Timp Perc-4

  • Piccolo
  • Flute (3) (3rd dbl Alto Flute)
  • Oboe (3)
  • Clarinet in E♭
  • Clarinet in B♭ (3)
  • Bass Clarinet in B♭
  • Contrabass Clarinet in B♭
  • Bassoon (2)
  • Contrabassoon
  • Alto Saxophone (2)
  • Tenor Saxophone
  • Baritone Saxophone
  • Horn in F (4)
  • Trumpet in C (3) (1st dbl B♭ Piccolo Trumpet)
  • Trombone (3)
  • Bass Trombone
  • Euphonium (2)
  • Tuba (2)
  • Harp
  • Piano
  • Organ (opt. Electric Organ)
  • Timpani
  • Required Percussion (4 players)
    • Xylophone
    • Glockenspiel
    • Small Shaker
    • Vibraphone
    • Suspended Cymbal (1 v-sm., 1 sm., 3 lg.)
    • Marimba (2)
    • Crash Cymbals
    • 5 Tom Set (3) (2 Bongos, sm. and med. toms, tenor drum)
    • Chimes
    • Wood Block (sm.)
    • Bull Roar (lg.)
    • Anvil
    • Bass Drum (2)
    • Crotales
    • Gongs (5) (non-pitched, sm. to lg.)
    • Tam-tam (2)
    • Snare Drum (sm. and 2 med.)
For wind ensembles and concertos, please use one player per part. For symphonies and concert pieces, more players may be used as desired. David’s full statement.

Commissioned by

  • The University of Texas at Austin Wind Ensemble, Jerry F Junkin, Conductor
  • The Stephen F. Austin State University Band, Kevin L. Sedatole, Acting Director
  • The Michigan State University Bands, John L. Whitwell, Director

and is dedicated to these conductors and ensembles with affection and gratitude.

Program Note

The sources that give rise to a piece of music are many and deep. It is possible to describe the technical aspects of a work – its construction principles, its orchestration – but nearly impossible to write of its soul nature except through hints and suggestions.

The roots of Symphony No. 4 are many. The central driving force is the spontaneous rise of the impulse to shout for the joy of life. I feel it is the powerful voice of the Earth that comes to me from my adopted western Montana, and the high plains and mountains of central Idaho. My personal experience of the voice is one of being helpless and tom open by the power of the thing that wants to be expressed – the welling-up shout that cannot be denied. I am set aquiver and am forced to shout and sing. The response in the voice of the Earth is the answering shout of thanksgiving, and the shout of praise.

Out of this, the hymn tune Old Hundred, several other hymn tunes (the Bach chorales Only Trust in God to Guide You and Christ Who Makes Us Holy), and original melodies which are hymn-like in nature, form the backbone of Symphony No. 4.

To explain the presence of these hymns, at least in part, and to hint at the life of the Symphony, I must say something about my long-time fascination with Abraham Lincoln. From Carl Sandburg’s monumental Abraham Lincoln, I offer two quotes. The first is a description of Lincoln in death by his close friend David R. Locke:

“I saw him, or what was mortal of him, in his coffin. The face had an expression of absolute content, or relief, at throwing off a burden such as few men have been called on to bear – a burden which few men could have borne. I have seen the same expression on his living face only a few times, when after a great calamity he had come to great victory. It was the look of a worn man suddenly relieved. Wilkes Booth did Abraham Lincoln the greatest service man could possible do for him – he gave him peace.

The second, referring to the passage through the country from Washington D.C. to Springfield, illinois of the coffin bearing Lincoln’s body:

To the rotunda of Ohio’s capitol, on a mound of green moss dotted with white flowers, rested the coffin on April 28, while 8,000 persons passed by each hour from 9:30 in the morning till four in the afternoon. In the changing red-gold of a rolling prairie sunset, to the slow exultation of brasses rendering Old Hundred, and the muffled boom of minute guns, the coffin was carried out of the rotunda and taken to the funeral train.

For me, Lincoln’s life and death are as critical today as they were more than a century ago. He remains a model for this age. Lincoln maintained in his person the tremendous struggle of opposites raging in the country in his time. He was inwardly open to the boiling chaos, out of which he forged the framework of a new unifying idea. It wore him down and killed him, as it wore and killed the hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the civil war, as it has continued to wear and kill by the millions up to the present day. Confirmed in the world by Lincoln was the unshakable idea of the unity of the human race, and by extension the unity of all life, and by further extension, the unity of all life with all matter, with all energy, and with the silent and seemingly empty and unfathomable mystery of our origins.

Out of chaos and the fierce joining of opposite comes new life and hope. From this impulse I used Old Hundred, known as the Doxology – a hymn of praise to God; Praise God from Whom all Blessings FlowGloria in excelsis Deo – the mid-sixteenth century setting of Psalm 100. Psalm 100 reads in part:

1Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
2Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
4Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

I have used Christian Symbols because they are my cultural heritage, but I have tried to move through them to a depth of universal humanness, to an awareness that is not defined by religious label. My impulse through this music is to speak to the fundamental human issues of transformation and re-birth in this chaotic time.

Program note by David Maslanka.

Further Reading

  • David Maslanka: Music for Young Wind Ensembles

David Maslanka: Works for Younger Wind Ensembles

16 July 2015|0 Comments

Here are more than twenty works for wind ensemble, arranged in approximate ascending order of difficulty, with commentary by David Maslanka

  • Mark Morette and David Maslanka

Recording the Wind Ensemble Music of David Maslanka

25 February 2015|0 Comments

Mark Morette of Mark Custom Recording shares his extensive experience in recording wind ensembles.

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

21 March 2014|0 Comments

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 [...]

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

19 August 2002|1 Comment

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 [...]

Dangerous Times

29 March 1994|0 Comments

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 [...]