Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 16, Lesser-Known Works for Saxophone & Saxophone Quartet

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web.

With fourteen compositions featuring the saxophone or saxophone quartet, David Maslanka was one of the foremost composers of classical saxophone music in our day. His saxophone pieces are well-known and performed around the world. This week, we feature three of David’s “lesser-known” works for saxophone & saxophone quartet: Peace, “Wie Bist Du, Seele?” from Tone Studies, and David’s transcription of Goldberg Variations by J.S. Bach. We hope you will want to play them!


According to Maslanka, “Peace was made as an encore for the 2012 Tokyo Masato Kumoi Sax Quartet premiere concert of my Songs for the Coming Day, and my transcription of the Bach Goldberg Variations. The music for Peace is a slight recomposition of the ‘song’ that ends the first movement of my Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Wind Ensemble. This ‘song without words’ is an evolution of the chorale melody Christum wir sollen loben schonPeace may seem like simple music, but it requires an exquisite balance of tone and dynamic control.” Watch below as the Kansas City Saxophone Quartet gives a breathtaking performance of this music.

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  • Peace @

Tone Studies, Movement V, “Wie Bist Du, Seele?”

Maslanka remarked that “Tone Studies is a set of six pieces which are for the most part slow and quiet. There is no really fast music in the whole piece, and only two fortissimo passages. I chose the title Tone Studies because each movement, and in fact each moment, offers a large number of choices about quality of sound, choices that will evolve with deepening study. The key to successful performance for both pianist and saxophonist is patience – patience with tempi, patience with fermatas, patient and careful listening into tones produced by each instrument and by the two together. It is very easy to play without deep listening. This music asks and requires that you listen deeply. When you do, a special settled heart energy arises through the performance.” Watch below as Filipe Fonseca, Alto Saxophone and Ana Raquel Cunha, Piano give a magical performance of Movement V, “Wie Bist Du, Seele?”

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Goldberg Variations, J.S. Bach (Transcription)

Maslanka has done a straight transcription of the entire Goldberg Variations following the keyboard edition of Hans Bischoff (Kalmus). All ornamentation has been carefully written out, and he has raised the key to A-flat from the original G to make more congenial fingerings for saxophones.

Maslanka said, “The effect of ‘opening up’ the original keyboard texture to four saxophone voices is startling and quite good. Goldberg Variations is a lot of music, and the requirement to learn it all, and then shape a performance, is daunting. However, this is some of the best music by a great composer, and every bit of effort toward mastering it will be repaid a thousand fold.” Watch below as Taewook Ahn, Patricia Coronel Avilés, Tadayoshi Kusakabe, and Jakub Muras give a phenomenal rendering of several variations from this large work.

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We would love to hear from you! If you know of any outstanding performances of David Maslanka’s music on the web, please email us at If you are interested in ordering any of this music, please visit