Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble

Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble2021-02-03T14:33:44+00:00

Project Description

Solo Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble
45 min.

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Listen Now

University of Arizona Wind Ensemble, Gregg I. Hanson, cond., Joseph Lulloff, Saxophone
On the album Maslanka: Concerto for Alto Saxophone, Concerto for Marimba and Band

Illinois State University, Stephen Steele, cond., Paul Nolan, Saxophone
On the album Liberation

Concordia Concert and Cobber Band, Leigh Wakefield, cond., Russell Peterson, Saxophone
On the album Hell’s Gate, Alto Saxophone Concerto

Masato Kumoi, Alto Saxophone; Mie Kubota, Piano

From a live performance on March 10, 2010

See Available Commercial Recordings


Solo Sax | Fl-2(2»AFl) Ob-2(2»EH) BbCl-3 BCl CACl Bsn-2(2»Cbsn) ASx-2 TSx BSx | Hn-4 Tpt-2(1»Picc) Tbn-2 BTbn Euph Tuba DB | Pno Timp Perc-4

  • Solo Alto Saxophone
  • Flute (2) (2 doubles Alto Flute)
  • Oboe (2) (2 doubles English Horn)
  • Clarinet in B♭ (3)
  • Bass Clarinet in B♭
  • Contra Alto Clarinet in E
  • Bassoon (2) (2 doubles Contrabassoon)
  • Alto Saxophone (2)
  • Tenor Saxophone
  • Baritone Saxophone
  • Horn in F (4)
  • Trumpet in C (2) (1 doubles Piccolo Trumpet)
  • Trombone (2)
  • Bass Trombone
  • Euphonium
  • Tuba
  • Double Bass
  • Piano (sub. Celeste)
  • Timpani
  • Required Percussion (4 players)
    • Marimba
    • Tenor Drum (2)
    • Gong (1 sm., 2 med., 1 lg.)
    • Suspended Cymbal (1 sm., 2 lg.)
    • Bell Tree
    • Claves (2)
    • Hand Bell
    • Vibraphone
    • Crotales (2)
    • Snare Drum
    • Bell Plate (2)
    • Shaker (sm.)
    • Tuned Gong
    • Orchestra Bells
    • Xylophone
    • Tam-tam
    • Bongos
    • Hi Hat Cymbal
    • Sleigh Bells
    • Bass Drum
    • Wood Blocks (2)
    • Temple Blocks
    • Rain Tree
    • Castanets
For wind ensembles and concertos, please use one player per part. For symphonies and concert pieces, more players may be used as desired. David’s full statement.


  1. Song: “Fire in the Earth”
  2. Interlude: “Bright Window, Your Night is Full of Stars”
  3. Song: “Dear Jesus, what have you DONE?!”
  4. Interlude: “Starry Night”
  5. Song: “Mortal, have you seen this?”

Commissioned by

a consortium developed by Jerry F. Junkin of the University of Texas at Austin, and Gregg I. Hanson of the University of Arizona. I wish to express my deepest thanks to Jerry and Gregg, and to the consortium members listed below for their support and good faith.

  • University of Texas at Austin – Jerry F. Junkin
  • University of Arizona – Gregg I. Hanson
  • Big Twelve Band Directors Association – in memory of Joseph Christensen
    • Baylor University – Michael Haithcock
    • University of Colorado at Boulder – Allan McMurray
    • Iowa State University – Michael Golemo
      • Department of Music Student Representative Council
      • Sigma Alpha Iota – Sigma Lambda Chapter
      • Collegiate Chapter of MENC
      • Phi Mu Alpha – Iota Omega Chapter
      • Tau Beta Sigma – Theta Xi Chapter
    • University of Kansas – Robert Foster
    • Kansas State University – Frank Tracz
    • University of Missouri, Columbia – Dale Lonis
    • University of Nebraska, Lincoln – John H. “Jay” Kloecker
    • University of Oklahoma – William Wakefield
    • Oklahoma State University – Joseph Missal
    • Texas A&M University – Lt. Colonel Ray E. Toler
    • Texas Tech University – John Cody Birdwell
  • Indiana University – Ray Cramer
  • Western Michigan University – Robert Spradling
  • Georgia State University – Thomas Martin Wubbenhorst
  • Illinois State University – Stephen K. Steele
  • Interlochen Arts Academy – John Stanley Ross
  • Michigan State University – John Whitwell
  • University of Georgia – H. Dwight Satterwhite
  • University of Washington – Tim Salzman
  • Central Washington University – Larry Gookin

Program Note

This concerto turned out to be a good deal larger than I would reasonably want. As I got into the composing, the ideas became insistent: none of them would be left out! The format of Songs and Interludes arises from my other recent works for saxophones (“Mountain Roads” for saxophone quartet and “Song Book” for alto saxophone and marimba) and suggests a music that is more intimate than symphonic. There is a strong spiritual overtone with quotes from Bach Chorales, and from my own works “Hell’s Gate” and “Mass.” A story is hinted at which has the Crucifixion right smack in the middle – the climax of the third movement quotes the “Crucifixus” from the “Mass.” I don’t know what the story is, only that it wants to be music, and not words.

I. Song: “Fire in the Earth”

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.

II. Interlude: “Bright Window, Your Night is Full of Stars”

“Bright Window” is the soprano song right before the Credo in my “Mass.” I have transcribed it whole as a beautiful song for the solo saxophone. The words of the original song reach out in prayer to the Holy Mother and ask for a personal connection with all that is. This music is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Christensen, Director of Bands at Iowa State University, whose untimely death was a shock to his many friends.

III. Song: “Dear Jesus, what have you DONE?!”

This music grows out of the chorale “Herzliebste Jesu, was hast du verbrocken” (“Dearest Jesus, what law did you break”). The chorale is the starting point for a huge upsurge of powerful emotion, cresting with the climax of the “Crucifixus” from the “Mass.” Dear Jesus, what have you done to get yourself crucified?…And then you drag the rest of us up there with you!!

IV. Interlude: “Starry Night”

“Starry Night” is not a quiet night! There is both mystery and playfulness in this music, and playfulness finally wins out, erupting into an extended dance episode with a very Baroque feel. Of all the movements, this one is most nearly a scherzo.

V. Song: “Mortal, have you seen this?”

In the Book of Ezekiel, the prophet has a vision of a man “whose appearance shone like bronze.” The “Bronze Man” shows him the Holy City. He then leads him into a deep and very wide river that cannot be crossed, and says “Mortal, have you seen this?” Where the river enters the sea the water becomes fresh; everything will live where the river goes; trees along the river will not wither, their fruit will be for food, their leaves for healing.

This movement is an echo of the third. It opens and closes with what has been called the “coronation” music from my composition “Hell’s Gate” – in this case played very softly and inwardly.

Program note by David Maslanka

Further Reading

From the Maslanka Archive – No. 26, Joseph Lulloff Performs Saxophone Concerto in Lucerne

25 June 2020|0 Comments

From the Maslanka Archive features media and stories of David's life and work. This week, we are excited to feature a classic performance of the Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble with Gregg Hanson leading Joseph Lulloff, Alto Saxophone and the University of Arizona Wind Ensemble from the 2001 World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) Conference.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 68, More New Performances of Saxophone Music

8 October 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three new performances of some of David’s best saxophone music: Songs for the Coming DayConcerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble, and David's transcription of J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations for Saxophone Quartet.

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

1 July 2019|0 Comments

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

Music in Life

18 April 2002|0 Comments

Remarks given on 18 April 2002 at Indiana University School of Music before a performance of the Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble. Other works on the concert included Montana Music: Chorale Variations and [...]

Interview with Russell Peterson

2 April 1998|2 Comments

Russell Peterson, professor of saxophone at Lawrence University in Appleton WI, interviewed David Maslanka on 30 November 1998 after premieres of Mountain Roads for saxophone quartet, commissioned and performed by the Transcontinental Saxophone Quartet and [...]