An Introduction, Symphony No. 10, and the Future

This is a bit of a long one: You can jump to the part that interests you:


Symphony No. 10

The Future


Although many of you know me, I thought it might be helpful to introduce myself briefly and let you know something of what’s going on.

I’m David’s son Matthew. I was born in New York City in 1982 and grew up with dad’s music all around me. When I was 5, I danced to him playing the ‘monster music’ from the saxophone sonata. At 10, I helped him make packages of scores to send to directors. At 14, I started preparing scores and parts for him. Dad taught me an enormous amount, not just of the technical aspects of music and composition, but of of the true nature of listening, breathing, and connecting.

As a performing musician, I trained on euphonium and trombone. I got euphonium performance degrees from Michigan State University (undergrad) and Indiana University (masters). I have lived in the band world for a long time! I now freelance in New York City.

As a music engraver, dad gave me an extraordinary foundation. He was a copyist in New York for many years and his ink scores from the 70s and 80s are works of art. Although I started working for him in 1996, I soon attracted more clients. I have done work in multiple areas of music performance and publishing: hyper-modern art music, Renaissance critical editions, musical theater, video games, and film.

As a music publisher, I founded Maslanka Press in 2012. We had three primary goals: Get the music played as much as possible, treat our customers like friends, and make a beautiful product. I’m excited by what we’ve accomplished and look forward to serving the community as we move forward.

As a composer, I could not have had better training. From an early age, dad encouraged me to compose. Working with him on my music was a pleasure. He showed me how tension could be built and released in its purest form. He demonstrated the dream space necessary to allow the music to coalesce into being. In college and grad school, I studied composition as well, expanding my understanding of tonality, structure, and intent.

And finally, as a clinician, dad again formed my primary experiences. All through my schooling, from middle school to grad school, I watched him working with groups and saw how they responded to each other. He had a distinct way of holding a space for people to blossom into. He required excellence in a way that inspired, not intimidated. As I started working with groups myself, I found his model deeply rooted in me. It has been a pure joy to work with people on dad’s music, to hear the music take its true shape, and to see the performers’ transformations.


Symphony No. 10

The story so far:

David was commissioned to write Symphony No. 10 by Scott Hagen (University of Utah) and Stephen Steele (formerly of Illinois State University, now based in Tucson, AZ.). He was also commissioned to write Symphony No. 11 by Onsby Rose (The Ohio State University). Both commissioning projects put together substantial consortiums to help support the production of the work. When David passed away in August of 2017, he had completed a fair portion of Symphony No. 10. The consortium heads and I determined that I would complete the composition of the work and that we would combine the membership to help finish this symphony. All funds from the symphony project would go to the newly-created David Maslanka Foundation (more about that later) Happily, the vast majority of consortium members were amenable to the idea.

We always thought we would have more time. Dad’s cancer progressed with stunning rapidity following my mother’s death in July of 2017. He was increasingly unable to write owing to extreme fatigue and weakness. He had completed orchestrating the entire first movement and half of the second movement. He had a full sketch for the remainder of the second movement and the entire fourth movement. The major remaining unfinished portion was the third movement. He had a finished sketch of about half of the movement, though he had started a substantial rewrite as my mother declined in June of 2017.

I got a call from my sister Kathryn on August 6th. She let me know that dad was feeling like things were getting close to the end. He thought he had perhaps another couple of weeks. I made ready to travel from New York to Montana the next day. Dad and I had intended to go over his plans for the rest of the symphony. We never had that conversation. Kathryn called the next morning, saying that he had passed during the night.

When I arrived in Montana, my sister gave me the clipboard that dad had been working on in bed. It had his sketch for the third and fourth movements on it. One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen the last page of his third movement sketch. It has such beautiful ideas expressed in a few hard-won gestures.

And then there was no more music.

It took me a long time to come to grips with the project: first to even engage with the text and then to reverse-engineer his thoughts. Quite a ways into my process, I discovered his original rough sketch for the third movement, requiring a reworking of what I had put together to that point.

At this point, I am nearly done with the structure of the third movement and am orchestrating the work for its intended premiere on March 21 by Stephen Steele and the Tucson Wind Symphony. The combined consortium supporting the work has roughly 70 members, many of whom will be performing the symphony. I intend to work with as many groups as possible over the coming months. If you’re a member, please get in touch with me as soon as possible to schedule a visit.


The Future

David’s passing has been a profound shock to me, my family, and to the band world. However, the support and love shown by our community has been boundless. I am so proud and grateful to be a part of this world.

I and my family are committed to preserving dad’s legacy. This means keeping his music available, archiving his papers, and promoting the performance and understanding of his works. To that end, my brother Stephen, my sister Kathryn, and I have created the David Maslanka Foundation, a Montana-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization, to oversee and administer this mission. We are putting together a steering committee of leading band directors and musicians to help guide our efforts to best serve the community.

We are working with an archivist to scan and catalog every piece of paper dad ever touched. We have an ongoing mission to collect every recording ever made and every dissertation and article ever written. We want to interview everyone who ever worked with him. We will be making a call for photos, video, personal recordings, and scans of correspondence. We will be making the results of our efforts available for free at

We are also converting David’s Montana studio into a reading room for those who wish to study his original manuscripts or listen to our collected recordings on our reference audio system. Designed by master recording engineer and longtime collaborator Jeff Harrison, the Parham 7π speakers and Pass First Watt power amp combine to produce astonishing detail, imaging, and presence. We wanted to have one place to for you to experience everything about David’s life and work without intermediation: the environment, the original manuscripts, and exceptional recorded fidelity. We are working to welcome our first guests in 2019.

We will be bringing Maslanka Press under the Foundation. Every piece of music you purchase will go directly to support its goals. We intend to retrieve all of his copyrights to reduce confusion and end publisher fragmentation. This will enable us to make his works available for sale in beautiful new editions. This will be a long-term multi-year project, but we are confident in its success.

I will be available to coach and advise performing groups on David’s music. All fees will go to the Foundation. You may contact us to schedule a visit or consultation here.

We are planning to support academic research into David’s life and work, produce media to present the concepts underlying his philosophy and music, and support young composers who we feel best exemplify his ideals. We’d love to create a regular festival to celebrate his works and showcase new talent.

My father loved me and supported me without reservation and with an open heart. He was my mentor and my best friend. We could talk each other’s language when few others could. His music has been with me for my entire life and suffuses my being. His gifts to me are beyond measure. As I find myself steward of his legacy, I am excited not just to share his music with a wider audience, but to deepen the connections that he created. I won’t be able to do this alone, though. I’m grateful to have the support and goodwill of not just my family, but the whole band world: of one of the most generous and heartfelt communities I know of. I’m looking forward to meeting all of you in person and making extraordinary music.

By |2018-02-15T18:50:03+00:0015 February 2018|Featured, News, Symphony No. 10|