Composer of the Month
August 30, 1943 – August 6, 2017
By Gary Green
David Maslanka died during the night of August 6th, 2017 at home. He had been diagnosed with a severe form of colon cancer in June. His wife, Alison, died on July 3rd of this year. He declined rapidly following her passing. He is survived by his children, Stephen, Matthew, and Kathryn.The loss of David Maslanka is especially difficult.He was a loving husband and father and always kept his family closest to his heart.For many, we have lost a treasured friend and colleague and mentor.He lived a quiet life and his deep sensitivity to the soul was always communicated in his ability to write music that revealed the beauty of the human spirit.He was contemplative and patient, always thoughtful and understanding to people in a wonderfully sympathetic manner.There is no wonder that he has so many friends and admirers across the globe.
The reasons for the death of someone we have grown to love and to rely on are unfathomable.Words fail to interconnect with each other or to ourselves the deep feelings that lie in all of us who knew and admired him as a musician or a cherished friend.He was deeply and genuinely a fundamental part of our lives.David Maslanka’s music and his honest spirit enabled us to love more deeply, to feel poetic meaning in our lives more clearly and to experience our own lives more fully.Whom of us has heard his music and not clearly felt the wound of a broken heart?It was through that willingness to so vividly expose his personal feelings that he offered an understanding of compassion more clearly.He exposed in us a need to understand clearly the qualities of love and human forgiveness that are so needed today.He has given us much to learn in our lives as human beings.Through his music we will continue to learn and experience all that is pure and honest.
David Maslanka was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA, in 1943. He attended the Oberlin College Conservatory where he studied composition with Joseph Wood. He spent a year at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and did masters and doctoral study in composition at Michigan State University where his principal teacher was H. Owen Reed.
Maslanka’s music for winds has become especially well known. Among his more than 150 works are over 50 pieces for wind ensemble, including eight symphonies, seventeen concertos, a Mass, and many concert pieces. His chamber music includes four wind quintets, five saxophone quartets, and many works for solo instrument and piano. In addition, he wrote a variety of orchestral and choral pieces.
David Maslanka’s compositions are published by Maslanka Press, Carl Fischer, Kjos Music, Marimba Productions, and OU Percussion Press. They have been recorded on Albany, Reference Recordings, BIS (Sweden), Naxos, Cambria, CRI, Mark, Novisse, AUR, Cafua (Japan), Brain Music (Japan), Barking Dog, and Klavier labels. He has served on the faculties of the State University of New York at Geneseo, Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, and Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York, and since 1990 has been a freelance composer. He lived in Missoula, Montana. David Maslanka was a member of ASCAP.
Wind ensemble works
A Tuning Piece: Songs of Fall and Winter (1995) – for Wind Ensemble. Premiered July 1995 at the Kappa Kappa Psi National Convention by the Intercollegiate Honor Band, James Croft, conductor. Symphonic Band; Based on several hymn tunes, it is a piece about tuning and attuning, growing out of perceptions of life after age 50. Commissioned by Kappa Kappa Psi.
Alex and The Phantom Band (2001) – for Wind Ensemble and Narrator.
A Carl Sandburg Reader (2007) – for Baritone and Soprano Soloists, and Wind Ensemble. A Carl Sandburg Reader was commissioned by the Illinois State University Office of Advancement, Illinois State University Office of Student Affairs, Illinois State University College of Fine Arts, Illinois State University School of Music, and the Illinois State University Band honoring the Illinois State University Sesquicentennial Celebration.
A Child’s Garden of Dreams (1981) – for Wind Ensemble. Premiered 2/82 at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., NU Wind Ensemble, John P. Paynter, conductor. For Symphonic Wind Ensemble, with a large percussion section, harp, piano, and electric organ. This five-movement work is based on dreams of a young girl who was about to die. Commissioned by John and Marietta Paynter.
Angel of Mercy (2015) – for Wind Ensemble. Premiered in January 2016 by the St Olaf Band, Timothy Mahr, conductor, and was written in commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the St Olaf Band. Described as “a prayer for peace in our troubled time”, this piece features a prominent part for bassoon.
Collected Chorale Settings – Arr. for Wind, Brass, Percussion, and String Instruments
Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble (1999) – for Solo Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble. Premiered 3/00 by the University of Arizona Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Gregg Hanson, conductor, Joseph Lulloff, solo saxophone. Commissioned by a consortium headed by the University of Texas at Austin/Jerry Junkin and the University of Arizona/Gregg Hanson
Concerto for Marimba and Band (1990) – for Marimba soloist and Band. Premiered 11/90 at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, Philadelphia, PA by the U.S. Air Force Band, Steven Grimo, conductor, Randall Eyles, marimba. A pastoral music which explores quiet moods and colors – except for one large outburst. Commissioned by the U.S. Air Force Band
Concerto for Piano, Winds and Percussion (1976) – for Solo Piano and Wind Ensemble. Premiered 2/79 by the Eastman Wind Ensemble, Frederick Fennell, conductor, William Dobbins, piano. Three movements, musically and emotionally demanding.
Concerto for Trombone and Wind Ensemble (2007) – for Solo Trombone and Wind Ensemble. The concerto was commissioned by a consortium of music schools headed by Conductor Gary Green and Trombonist Timothy Connor of the University of Miami Frost School of Music, and is dedicated to the memory of flutist Christine Nield-Capote. The Concerto for Trombone is composed for an ensemble of 21 wind and brass instruments, double bass, piano, and a substantial percussion group. It is in three large movements, each of a very intense song-like nature. In addition to the solo trombone, the concerto features a prominent supporting solo cello part.
Concerto No. 2 for Piano, Winds, and Percussion (2003) – for Solo Piano and Wind Ensemble
David’s Book: Concerto for Solo Percussionist and Wind Ensemble (2006) – for Solo Percussionist and Wind Ensemble
Desert Roads: Four Songs for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble (2004) – for Solo Clarinet and Wind Ensemble
Give Us This Day: Short Symphony for Wind Ensemble (2005) – for Wind Ensemble. Features a Clarinet solo in movement 1 and Oboe, Flute, Saxophone, and Clarinet solos in movement 2
Golden Light – A Celebration Piece (1990) – for Wind Ensemble. Premiered 8/90 at the Cohasset Music Circus, Cohasset, MA: Senior Wind Ensemble of the South Shore Conservatory, Malcolm W. Rowell, Jr., conductor. “Golden Light” was written for a high school wind ensemble. It is a very demanding study in rhythmic independence and speed, and is a fair test of any ensemble. Commissioned by the South Shore Conservatory.
Heart Songs (1997) – for Young Band. Premiered 4/98 by the Harwood Junior High School Symphonic Band (Bedford, TX), Christopher Ferrell, conductor. Commissioned by the Harwood Junior High School Symphonic Band/Joe Gunn.
Hell’s Gate (1997) – for Three Saxophones and Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Premiered 3/97 by the Hellgate High School Symphonic Band, John H. Combs, conductor. Written for the Hellgate High School Band of Missoula, Montana; a single movement work that chronicles a soul journey. Commissioned by the Hellgate High School Symphonic Band/John H. Combs
Hosannas (2015) – for Wind Ensemble. Premiered 4/26/15 by the University of Miami Frost Wind Ensemble, Gary D. Green, conductor. Written for the final concert and to commemorate the retirement of Professor Green’s 22nd year career at the University of Miami. The piece is in 7 movements of varying mood. The final movement features tenor voice and is based on a poem by Richard Beale, A Litany of Courage and the Seasons.
In Memoriam (1989) – for Wind Ensemble. Premiered 2/90 at the Texas Music Educators Association annual conference, San Antonio, TX by the University of Texas at Arlington Wind Ensemble, Ray C. Lichtenwalter, conductor. Composed for Ray Lichtenwalter in memory of his wife Susan; embraces the hymn “Nur den lieben Gott lasst walten” – (“If you only trust in God to guide you”). Commissioned by the University of Texas at Arlington Wind Ensemble/Ray C. Lichtenwalter
Laudamus Te (1994) – for Wind Ensemble. Premiered 4/95 by the Mount St. Charles Academy Symphonic Band, Woonsocket, RI, Marc Blanchette, conductor. Commissioned by the Mount St. Charles Academy Symphonic Band/Marc Blanchette. Laudamus Te – we praise you: a line from the Latin Gloria; a dark piece; praise growing out of depression and darkness.
Liberation (2010) – for Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Chorus. Premiered 3/14/2010 Okazaki – Japanese Wind Ensemble Conductors Conference. United States Premiere 04/18/2010 by the Illinois State University Symphonic Winds Stephen K. Steele, Conductor.
Mass (revised 2005) – for SATB Chorus, Boys Chorus, Soprano & Baritone soli, Organ, and Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Premiered 4/96 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Tucson, AZ, by the University of Arizona Wind Ensemble, Gregg Hanson, conductor. A complete setting the Latin Mass, intercut with solo songs on poems of Richard Beale. Commissioned by a consortium headed by the University of Arizona Wind Ensemble/Gregg Hanson
Montana Music: Chorale Variations (1993) – for Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Premiered 5/93 by the Bishop Ireton High School Band, Alexandria, VA, Garwood Whaley, conductor. Like “In Memoriam” and other works, “Montana Music” embodies a hymn tune (O Sacred Head) in a free-variation context. Commissioned by the Bishop Ireton High School Band, Alexandria, VA/Garwood Whaley
Morning Star (1997) – for Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Premiered 5/97 by the Grand Ledge High School Wind Symphony, Grand Ledge, MI, Michael Kaufman, conductor. Commissioned by the Grand Ledge High School Wind Symphony
Mother Earth – a Fanfare (2003) – for Wind Ensemble
O Earth, O Stars: Music for Flute, Cello, and Wind Ensemble (2010)- Double Concerto for Flute, Cello and Wind Ensemble. Premiered 11/18/10 by the Illinois State University Wind Symphony, Stephen K. Steele, Conductor; Kimberly Risinger, Flute; Adriana La Rosa Ransom, Cello.
Prelude On A Gregorian Tune (1981) – for Young Band. The melody is evolved from a piece of Gregorian Chant; a gentle, sunny piece for young band.
Procession of the Academics (2007) – for Wind Ensemble
Rollo Takes A Walk (1980) – for Band
Sea Dreams: Concerto for two Horns and Wind Ensemble (1997) – for Two Horns and Wind Ensemble. Premiered 4/98 by the Arizona State University Wind Ensemble, Richard Strange, conductor, Thomas Bacon and James Graves, horns. Commissioned by a consortium headed by Thomas Bacon
Song Book (2001) – for Flute and Wind Ensemble. Song Book for Flute and Wind Ensemble is a concerto in five movements. The title Song Book comes out of the intimate nature of the music, and the voice-like quality of the flute.
Symphony No. 2 (1985) – for Concert Band. Premiered 2/87 at the College Band Directors National Association National Convention, Evanston, Ill., Northwestern University Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble, John P. Paynter, conductor. Commissioned by the Big Ten Band Directors Association
Symphony No. 3 (1991) – for Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Premiered 11/91 at the University of Connecticut (Storrs) by the Uconn Wind Ensemble, Gary Green, conductor. Commissioned by the University of Connecticut Research Council/Gary Green
Symphony No. 4 (1993) – for Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Premiered 2/94 at the 1994 Texas Music Educators Association convention, San Antonio, TX, by the University of Texas at Austin Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Jerry Junkin, conductor. Commissioned by a consortium headed by the University of Texas at Austin Symphonic Wind Ensemble/Jerry Junkin
Symphony No. 5 (2000) – for Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Commissioned by a consortium headed by Illinois State University Wind Symphony/Stephen K. Steele
Symphony No. 7 (2004) – for Wind Ensemble. Commissioned by a consortium headed by Illinois State University/Stephen K. Steele. Premiered 3/10/05 at the Illinois State University Center for the Performing Arts, Normal, IL, by the Illinois State University Wind Symphony, Stephen K. Steele, conductor.
Symphony No. 8 (2008) – for Wind Ensemble. Premiered 11/20/08 at the Illinois State University Center for Performing Arts, Normal, IL, by the Illinois State University Wind Symphony, Stephen K. Steele, conductor. Commissioned by a consortium headed by Stephen K. Steele.
Symphony No. 9 (2011) – for Wind Ensemble. Premiered 11/17/11 at the Illinois State University Center for Performing Arts, Normal, IL, by the Illinois State University Wind Symphony, Stephen K. Steele, conductor.
Tears (1994) – for Wind Ensemble. Premiered 10/94 at the Wisconsin Music Educators Association, Madison, WI by the Intercollegiate Honor Band, Allan McMurray, conductor. Tears is a single-movement, 13-minute work that can be played by band or wind ensemble. Commissioned by the Wisconsin Music Educators Association.
Testament (2001) – for Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Written in response to the events of 9/11, Testament is a statement of belief in the healing power of music. Commissioned by L.D. Bell High School Band (Hurst, TX) – Joseph Grzybowski, and Consortium
Traveler (2003) – for Wind Ensemble. Commissioned by the University of Texas at Arlington chapters of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma.
ufo Dreams: Concerto for Euphonium and Wind Ensemble (1998) – for Euphonium solo and Wind Ensemble. Premiered 3/99 by the Hellgate High School Wind Ensemble, Missoula, MT, John H. Combs, conductor, Matthew Maslanka, solo euphonium. Commissioned by the Hellgate High School Wind Ensemble/John H. Combs
Unending Stream of Life: Variations on “All Creatures of Our God and King” (2007) – for Wind Ensemble and commissioned by the Sacred Wind Ensemble, conductor Dr. Scott Bersaglia.
Variants on a Hymn Tune (1994) – for Euphonium solo and Young Wind Ensemble. Premiered 2/95 at the Music Educators National Conference Northwestern Convention, Spokane, WA by the Missoula All-City Winds, John Schuberg, conductor, Matthew Maslanka, euphonium solo. Commissioned by the Missoula All-City Winds