This is the world we know, the world of air and breathing and sun and beating hearts

This is the world we know, the world of air and breathing and sun and beating hearts2019-05-07T00:25:35+00:00

Project Description

Two Pianos and Two Percussionists
2009
50 min.

Buy Score and Parts

 

Listen Now

CanAm Piano Duo; Karen Beres & Christopher Hahn, piano; Lance Drege & David Steffens, percussion
On the album This is the World (2012)

See Available Commercial Recordings

Preview Score

Instrumentation

Pno-2 | Perc-2

  • Crotales
  • Orchestra Bells
  • Vibraphone
  • Marimba
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Chimes
  • Metal Wind Chimes
  • Tam-tam
  • Snare Drum
  • Bass Drum
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.

Movements

  1. Nighthawks (after the painting by Edward Hopper)
  2. Do You Know My Name?
  3. Out of the Blue
  4. The Closer You Get, the Stranger the Stars Look…
  5. Let It Be

Commissioned by

the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Premiere

January 2010 by the CanAm Piano Duo (Karen Beres and Christopher Hahn), and percussionists Lance Drege and David Steffens

Description

This is the World is a set of largely interior tone poems for a two-piano, two-percussion ensemble. The music is spacious and patient, with simple rhythms, slow harmonies, expansive and touching melodies, and moments of ferocity, whimsy, and grandeur. Although old-time Chorale melodies play an important role in this music, the Nighthawks painting of Edward Hopper is foundational to the whole piece. This painting from 1942 touches something enduring about the American heart and experience, specifically an element of darkness, estrangement, and waiting which I wish to see brought forward and transformed in our time. We are at the cusp of enormous change.

Listing the work in programs

The full title is styled as follows: This is the world we know, the world of air and breathing and sun and beating hearts. “This is the World” is the appropriate short form.

Program Note

 

The overall feeling of This is the World is one of quiet awe at the nature of our world, both the planet on which we live, and the amazing web of life that it supports – not only that but its place, and our place in the universal web of life, the jeweled “net of Indra.”

The Nighthawks painting of Edward Hopper is his iconic contribution to American culture. It is one of my favorite paintings. It captures something absolutely fundamental about the American experience, and that is expressed probably more by the architecture of the picture – the amazing collection of shapes, and the relationship of light to dark, especially the overwhelming darkness – than by the unspoken “story” of the diner and the people in it. My music expresses some aspects of my own take on the “story,” especially the hidden life in the blank windows of the building in the background, but my overall composition is, as well, a parallel to Hopper’s lifelong preoccupation with shapes and light. He managed to convey powerful unspoken human and universal elements though abstract forms.

Nighthawks, Edward Hopper, 1941

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942, Art Institute of Chicago

The very sweet melody and luminous harmonies of “Do You Know My Name?” touch me in a very hard way every time I play through this music. The melody is derived very loosely from the Bach chorale On the Fortieth Day After Easter (Als vierzig Tag’ nach Ostern war’n, BWV 266). The title “Do You Know My Name” comes with no further explanation….

“Out of the Blue” grows out of the Chorale melody Christ is Risen (Christ ist erstanden, BWV 276). This melody has an inexpressible mystery in it for me, and I have used variations of it in several other compositions. “Out of the Blue” suggests the sudden arrival of something surprising – in this case a luminous joy.

David Maslanka, The Closer You Get, the Stranger the Stars Look..., 2003

David Maslanka, The Closer You Get, the Stranger the Stars Look…, 2003

“The Closer You Get, the Stranger the Stars Look…” began as a whimsical pastel drawing that I made some years ago. The stars are square(!), one is a Cheshire cat, one has a “message for you,” one has horns and fangs. This quiet and whimsical music suggests a deep listening to one’s innermost self.

“Let It Be” embodies yet another chorale melody: Lord, Do Not Be Angry With Me (Herr, straf mich nicht in deinem Zorn, BWV 338). The music is a deep prayer for peace within, peace with others, peace with our beautiful world, and the emergence of our lives as children of the universe.

Program note by David Maslanka

Further Reading

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 72, Life

5 November 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 focus on the spirit of life and living: Unending Stream of Life, Traveler, and “Movement 4” from A Child's Garden of Dreams.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 69, Dream Space

15 October 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 (of which there are literally dozens to choose from) that explore a vast array of dream space: A Child's Garden of Dreams, Traveler, and California.

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 48, Water Music

20 May 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we continue to look at more of David's music that uses water as a symbol or motif: A Child's Garden of Dreams, Sea Dreams: Concerto for Two Horns and Wind Ensemble, and UFO Dreams: Concerto for Euphonium and Wind Ensemble, Movement II - "The Water is Wide."

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 39, Dreams & Meditations

18 March 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three compositions that specifically mention "dreaming" or "meditation" in their title: A Child's Garden of Dreams, Movement I, Sea Dreams: Concerto for Two Horns and Wind Ensemble, Movement III, and Recitation Book, Movement I, "Broken Heart: Meditation on the chorale melody Der du bist drei in einigkeit."