Symphony No. 9

Symphony No. 92021-12-15T14:05:15+00:00

Project Description

Wind Ensemble
75 min.
Grade 7

Buy Movement 1 Score and Parts
Buy Complete Work Score and Parts


Listen Now

Illinois State University Wind Symphony, Stephen Steele, cond.
On the album David Maslanka: Symphony No. 9 (2012)

See Available Commercial Recordings

Preview Score


Narrator Picc Fl-2 Ob-2 EbCl BbCl-3 BCl CbCl Bsn-3(3»Cbsn) SSx ASx-2 TSx BSx | Hn-4 Tpt-3 Tbn-2 BTbn Euph Tuba DB | Hp Pno Timp Perc-6

  • Narrator
  • Piccolo
  • Flute (3)
  • Oboe (2)
  • Clarinet in Eb
  • Clarinet in Bb (3)
  • Bass Clarinet
  • Contrabass Clarinet in Bb
  • Bassoon (3), 3rd dbl. Contrabassoon
  • Soprano Saxophone
  • Alto Saxophone (2)
  • Tenor Saxophone
  • Baritone Saxophone
  • Horn in F (4)
  • Trumpet in Bb (3) (st., Harm., plunger)
  • Trombone (2)
  • Bass Trombone
  • Euphonium
  • Tuba
  • Double Bass
  • Harp
  • Piano
  • Timpani (4 drums)
  • Required Percussion 6 Players
    • Xylophone
    • Crotales
    • Marimba (3)
    • Chimes
    • Suspended Cymbal (lg.)
    • Snare Drum
    • Tenor Drum
    • Bass Drum (2)
    • Tam-tam
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.

Commissioned by

Commissioned by a consortium lead by Stephen K. Steele, Illinois State University.

  • Steven Ward
    Abilene Christian University
  • James Lambrecht
    Augustana College
  • Bruce Moss
    Bowling Green State University
  • Donald Peterson,
    Brigham Young University
  • Wesley Broadnax
    California State Univeristy
  • Gary Gilmore
    California State University Fresno
  • Larry Gookin,
    Central Washington University
  • Mark Scatterday
    Eastman School of Music
  • Richard Clary
    Florida State University
  • Robert Dunham
    Georgia Southern University
  • Christopher Werner 
La Crosse
    Public Education Foundation (LPEF)
  • Nathan Rinnert andAdam Brennan
    Mansfield University
  • David Kish
    Metro State Department of Music
  • Reed Thomas
    Middle Tennessee State University
  • Warren Olfert
    Reineke Fine Arts Center
  • Craig Fuchs
    Pittsburg State University
  • Kraig Williams
    Rutgers University
  • Joseph Hermann
    Tennesse Tech University
  • Bobby Francis
    Texas Christian University
  • Caroline Beatty
    Texas State University
  • Kenneth Ozzello
    University of Alabama
  • C. David Ragsdale
    University of Alabama in Huntsville
  • Gregg Hanson
    University of Arizona
  • Brian Lamb
    University of Central Oklahoma
  • John Cody Birdwell
    University of Kentucky
  • Martin Seggelke
    San Francisco State University
  • Carolyn Barber
    University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • John Carmichael
    University of South Florida
  • Thomas Fraschillo
    University of Southern Mississippi
  • Jerry Junkin
    University of Texas at Austin
  • Doug Stotter
    University of Texas at Austin
  • Peter J. Haberman
    University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
  • Scott Hagen
    University of Utah
  • Terry Austin
    Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Mark Norman
    Washburn University
  • Robert Spradling
    Western Michigan University
  • Martin Lenard
    Kerrville, TX Independent School District
  • Luis DeLaCruz
    McCollum High School Band
  • Nakata Mamoru
    Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra


11 November 2011 by the Illinois State University Wind Ensemble, Stephen K. Steele, cond., at the Illinois State University Center for the Performing Arts, Bloomington-Normal, IL


Advanced College/Professional Band.
Most sections have exposed solo and chamber playing. The Soprano and Alto Saxophone, Clarinet Choir, and Piano are especially prominent. Requires advanced mallet percussion.


30 September 2011, Missoula, Montana

“…what an extraordinary creation he has here…”

—Zan Furtwangler, Audiophile Audition


This work was commissioned by Dr. Stephen K. Steele of Illinois State University who gathered a consortium of over 40 conductors, ensembles, and individuals, here and abroad, to support the work. It is in four movements, with a duration of about 75 minutes. The symphony opens with a reading of the poem “Secrets” by W. S. Merwin, which is paralleled in the fourth movement by a reading of my brief Whale Story. Symphony No. 9 can be described as a large collection of instrumental songs which create a continuously moving tapestry of thoughts and images relating to the nature of memory, the life giving creative force of water, and compassion, forgiveness, and rest. The flow of the entire Symphony is toward the Chorale melody O Sacred Head Now Wounded at the end of the fourth movement. While the Symphony is of extended length it is not physically fatiguing to perform. Its high demand is for patience in pacing, and continuous attention by all ensemble members to each moment of musical sound.


  1. Preface: “Secrets” by W.S. Merwin
  2. Shall We Gather at the River
  3. Now All Lies Under Thee
  4. Fantasia on I Thank You God
  5. Fantasia on O Sacred Head Now Wounded

         Shall We Gather at the River
         Watch the Night With Me
         Soul, How Have You Become So Unhappy
         Whale Story (O Sacred Head Now Wounded)
         O Sacred Head Now Wounded 

Program Note

Symphony No. 9 is a large collection of instrumental songs. There are many influences and underlying elements, but most of them cannot be explained in words. Rather than try, I will simply list some of the things at work:
Time: memory, passing of time, “We flew through the years hearing them rush under us” —W.S Merwin
Water: cleansing and life–giving power, Shall We Gather at the RiverWhale Story
Nature: our ground, river, ocean, chickadees
Grace: compassion, forgiveness, rest
The Symphony begins with a reading of the poem “Secrets”* by W.S. Merwin.

Time unseen time our continuing fiction
however we tell it eludes our dear hope and our reason
that is a pure condition of the story
and wherever our parents came from is another century
an age which they themselves could barely remember
but carried with them as their own year after year
hidden away hardly looked at until the secret
without their noticing had faded all the details white
for my mother it came to be the lace veil covering
the front of the baby carriage where she was being
wheeled through the Garden of the Gods when her parents were
still alive as she told about it later
and for my father it was the glare bleaching the surface
of the river as he sat under the white blaze
of summer in the rowboat tied above the waterline
where he was allowed to hold the oars and imagine
leaving did he see any farther when he was
dying in summer after midnight and before the solstice
coughing saying he was not afraid and was the veil still there
when my mother turned from her own garden one evening that same year
telling a friend on the telephone that she was going
to get a little rest now at her glasses were lying
apart from her on the floor not more than an hour
later when a neighbor pushed the door open and found her

Each movement embodies one or more chorale melodies or other songs. In the fourth movement, There is a reading of my own Whale Story (O Sacred Head Now Wounded).

I. Shall We Gather at the River
     I Thank You God for All Your Good Works 
II. Now All Lies Under Thee 
III. Fantasia on I Thank You God… †
IV. Fantasia on O Sacred Head Now Wounded 
     Shall We Gather at the River
     Watch the Night With Me (fl., tpt, harp, pno.)
     Soul, How Have You Become So Unhappy † (fl., tpt, sax., harp, pno.)
     Whale Story (O Sacred Head Now Wounded)

Why should God have incarnated only in human form? (A brief story about whales)

In the sixty million years or so the great whales have had, both on land and in the oceans, there have been numerous, and in fact, innumerable great beings among them. In fact, it turns out that all the great whales are either highly developed bodhisattvas or Buddhas. And in fact, it turns out that the Earth’s oceans are a Buddha Pure Land, and when you pass from this existence it is to be hoped for rebirth as a god or a great whale. In fact, it turns out that the Pure Land oceans of the Earth are a training ground for Buddhas across all space and time. We are loved by the great whales, and they, serenely riding the waves of birth and death, will die for us so that we may come to our enlightenment.

The end.

     O Sacred Head Now Wounded † (cl., sax., harp, pno., perc.)

Program notes by David Maslanka.
*”Secrets” is used by kind permission of Copper Canyon Press
†Chorale melodies are from the 371 Four-part Chorales by J.S. Bach

Further Reading

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 91, David’s Symphonies Around the World

16 March 2020|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we travel from the corn fields of Iowa - to the exciting streets of Paris - to the historic sights of northern Portugal to feature three new performances of favorite symphonies: Symphony No. 9Symphony No. 10, and Symphony No. 5.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 47, Rivers

13 May 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 compositions that make reference to a river: Symphony No. 9, Movement I, "Shall We Gather at the River," Symphony No. 2, Movement II, "Deep River," and Symphony No. 10: The River of Time, Movement II, "Mother and Boy Watching The River of Time."