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 nature and water in Symphony No. 9.
The music of American composer David Maslanka (b. 1943) is informed by his deep connection to the natural world. This connection permeates his music and results in powerful works imbued with a wealth of spiritual and environmental meaning, including three of his symphonies for wind ensemble (Nos. 3, 4, and 9). Many of these natural connections emerge from Maslanka’s meditation process; his ability to consciously explore dream images allows him to embrace an understanding of the Earth and his environment. In Symphony No. 3, Maslanka combines impressions of the mountains, skies, and prairies of his new Missoula, Montana environment with dream images of both animal and American Indian spirits. Symphony No. 4 was inspired by the same western Montana landscape, stemming from Maslanka’s perception of a “voice of the Earth.” This piece also reveals connections to nature through the recurring use of the hymn tune “Old Hundred.” Maslanka identifies four concepts that guide Symphony No. 9 (nature, water, time, and grace); he also incorporates birdcalls, a story about whales, and settings […]