Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 54, Walking

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

David Maslanka loved to walk and considered it an invaluable part of his compositional process:

“Walking has been extremely important in my concentration practice. Walking engages the whole body, and both halves of the brain. It is an integral part of my composing process.

When the mind is relatively clear and open it is possible simply to enjoy the mental vacation. In fact, I recommend this to people as a way of recharging the mind during the course of a busy day. Walking may not always be possible but five minutes of this practice sitting in your desk lets you bring a different energy and clarity to each engagement.

When the mind is open it is possible to ask a question or make a request such as, ‘show me something I need to know about the person who asked me to compose;’ or, ‘show me something I need to know about the music I am starting to write.'”

This week we feature three of David’s works that reference his practice of walking: Song: “Fire in the Earth” from Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble, “Solvitur Ambulando” from Song Book for Flute and Wind Ensemble, and Rollo Takes a Walk.

Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble, I. “Fire in the Earth”

From David’s Program Note:

Walking through a Montana field on a brilliant late fall day, three images came in rapid succession: a distant row of red plant stems caught by the morning sun, snow on the surrounding high mountains, green grass at my feet. The following poetic image came:

Fire in the earth
Snow in the heavens
New green grass in the middle of November

This is a quiet, emotional music – sometimes not so quiet – contained by a very simple song form.

Watch below as Brian K. Doyle leads Eric Villalta (Alto Saxophone) and the Crane Wind Ensemble in an exciting performance of this music.

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Song Book for Flute and Wind Ensemble, II. “Solvitur Ambulando”

From David’s Program Note:

The title of the second movement, “Solvitur Ambulando,” is Latin for “it is solved by walking.” There is a centuries-old tradition that good ideas come while walking. It is a practice that I have used in my creative work for some years. Intuition and intellect are engaged together by the alternating motion of the limbs. The Danish philosopher Kierkegard wrote, “Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being; I have walked myself into my best thoughts…If one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”

Watch below as Drew Shipman (Flute) and Jinshil Yi (Piano) give a fabulous rendering of this movement.

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Rollo Takes a Walk

From David’s Program Note:

“Rollo” is complicated little idea, and when asked to explain it I am often at a loss. Rollo is a fictional character created by the American composer Charles Ives who lived from 1875 to 1953. Ives used Rollo in his writings about music as the model of an average person with conservative musical tastes. Ives would say “Rollo would really like that tune!” or “Rollo wouldn’t like that one at all!” Rollo was Ives’ measuring stick for a level of American popular taste. The irony was that Rollo wouldn’t have liked most of Ives’ own music. So in Rollo Takes a Walk he moves about among tunes that he likes, and some stuff that’s hard for him. Finally, “Rollo” is simply a quirky little bit of fun, a bit of a musical cartoon. I hope you enjoy!

Watch below as the Gig Harbor High School Concert Band gives an exquisite performance of this 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