Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 55, Alison

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

Today we honor and remember Alison Matthews, David Maslanka’s beloved wife and companion of 36 years. It was just over two years ago that she passed away from kidney failure on July 3, 2017.

Alison Matthews has been described as David’s “rock” throughout much of the course of his life. According to Kathryn Maslanka, (David and Alison’s daughter), “(She) worked as a financial planner for the first few years they lived in Missoula, and then was able to shift to applying that monetary acumen to managing the Maslanka household. It was her brains and his creativity that made it work.”

Alison had a huge love of animals. Reflecting back on his life, Matthew Maslanka said “There were always animals in and out of the house! Before any of us went to bed, it was our job to take care of them for the night.” Scott Hagen, Director of Bands at the University of Utah remembered that, “At one point, David called and asked if Alison could stay with us overnight as she transported a horse to her daughter’s home in Arizona. Now, this was a trip – just imagine “Hagen Inn” (already 3 dogs) with two more and a horse trailer! It was absolutely fantastic getting to know Alison.”

This week we celebrate the life of Alison Matthews by featuring three of David’s works that have a movement dedicated to her: “Alison” from Symphony No. 10, “Song for Alison” from Song Book for Alto Saxophone and Marimba, and “For Pretty Alison” from My Lady White.

Symphony No. 10: The River of Time – I. Alison

From Matthew Maslanka’s Program Note:

Symphony No. 10 was commissioned by a consortium headed by Stephen K. Steele, Scott Hagen (University of Utah), and Onsby Rose (The Ohio State University). My father passed away while writing the work. I completed the composition based on his sketches.

Dad titled the completed first movement after his wife and my mother: “Alison.” He was writing as my mother was dying of an immune disorder in the spring of 2017. This movement may be seen through that lens, with bitter rage at the coming loss and a beautiful song full of love.

Watch below as Blaise Héritier leads Blasorchester Siebnen in an emotional rendering of this music from December 16, 2018.

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Song Book for Alto Saxophone and Marimba – VI. Song for Alison

From David’s Program Note:

Song Book was commissioned by Steven Jordheim and Dane Richeson of the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music, and was composed in the summer of 1998. The movements of Song Book are relatively brief. They have a particular thing to say, a particular mood and attitude to express, and then they are done. I think of the pieces as emotional scenes.

“Song for Alison” is for my wife, who has been a grounding influence on me for many years. She is not a musician, but has, through her kindness, steadiness, and love, provided a safe haven for my flights of fancy.

Watch below as Technical Sgt. Carolyn Braus, Alto Saxophone and Master Sgt. Randy Gorman, Marimba (from the United States Air Force Band) give a beautiful interpretation of this song.

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My Lady White – III. For Pretty Alison

From David’s Program Note:

The title, My Lady White, is a reference to a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer; an elegy for a woman named Blanche who was his devoted courtly love who he described as “supremely modest, yet easily approachable, refined, temperate, lighthearted and pious without sternness or coldness.” I call the three movements of My Lady White madrigals because they remind me of those brief, intimate, emotional song forms. The words, “A Gift of Rings,” from the title of the second piece are the title of a poem by the modern English poet Robert Graves. Graves also spent his life searching for the “White Goddess,” which is the name of a book that he wrote.

“For Pretty Alison” – Alison is my wife, my best friend, and in many ways my own “Lady White.”

Watch below as Andrew Veit gives a heartfelt rendition of this amazing music.

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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