Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wind Band Composer Snapshot: David Maslanka

David Maslanka
Dr. David Maslanka (1943-Present) American Composer

- Born in New Bedford, Mass.
- Holds degrees from Oberlin(1965) BMusEd and Michigan State(67-71) MM and PhD Theory/Composition where his prinicipal teacher was H. Owen Reed.
- spent a year studying at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria
- Has been working as a freelance composer since 1990.
- Served as faculty at 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.
- Now resides in Missoula, MT.
- Has written choral, orchestral, solo, chamber, and percussion music, but is most well-known for his over 40 contributions to the wind ensemble repertoire.
- Symphonies 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9 are for wind ensemble as well as 12 concertos, a Mass, and many smaller scale concert pieces.

[Freesen Note: Maslanka’s belief in fate and the beyond is interesting to me. He talks about his school selection by saying he was naïve in choosing programs, but he believes if “you need a teacher, than the teacher will appear”]

Major works for Wind Ensemble:

A Child’s Garden of Dreams (1981) 35:00Min Gr. VII
- Premiered in Feb. 1982 at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., NU Wind Ensemble, John P. Paynter, conductor
- Commissioned by John and Marietta Paynter for the Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble.
- The work is based on “Man and His Symbols” by Carl Jung(a Swiss psychologist): The anecdote explains an experience of meeting with a psychiatrist who brought in a handwritten booklet he had received as a Christmas present from his 10-year-old daughter. It was a puzzling set of dreams that were incomprehensible. Each dream begins with the words of a fairy tale: ‘Once upon a time.’ The father couldn’t explain the dreams because they had no personal association. She would die a year after giving this book to her father.
- from Man and His Symbols: “The dreams were a preparation for death, expressed through short stories. The little girl was approaching puberty, and at the same time, the end of her life. Little or nothing in the symbolism of her dreams points to the beginning of a normal adult life. When I first read her dreams, I had the uncanny feeling that they suggested impending disaster. These dreams open up a new and rather terrifying aspect of life and death. One would expect to find such images in an aging person who looks back on life, rather than to be given them by a child. Their atmosphere recalls the old Roman saying, ‘Life is a short dream,’ rather than the joy and exuberance of its springtime. Experience shows that the unknown approach of death casts an ‘adumbratio’ (an anticipatory shadow) over the life and dreams of the victim. Even the altar in Christian churches represents, on one hand, a tomb and, on the other, a place of resurrection – the transformation of death into eternal life.”
- In 5 movements, which were selected from the 12 dreams in his book:
I. There is a desert on the moon where the dreamer sinks so deeply into the ground that she reaches hell.
II. A Drunken woman falls into the water and comes out renewed and sober.
III. A horde of small animals frightens the dreamer. The animals increase to a tremendous size, and one of them devours the little girl.
IV. A drop of water is seen as it appears when looked at through a microscope. The girl sees that the drop is full of tree branches. This portrays the origin of the world.
V. An ascent into heaven, where pagan dances are being celebrated; and a descent into hell, where angels are doing good deeds

Symphony No. 2 (1985) 30 min Gr. VII
- In 3 movements: I. Moderato, II. Deep River III. Allegro Molto
- Premiered in Feb. 1987 at the CBDNA National Convention in Evanston, IL by Northwestern University Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble, with John P. Paynter, conducting
- commissioned by the Big Ten Band Directors Association in 1983 to be a major work for full symphonic band.
- The first and third movements are in sonata form.
- The second movement is based on an African American spiritual(Deep River) and the final notes were written during the tragedy of the Challenger space shuttle. It is dedicated to the memory of those astronauts.

In Memoriam (1989) 13 minutes
- Premiered Feb. 1990 at the Texas Music Educators Association annual conference, San Antonio, TX by the University of Texas at Arlington Wind Ensemble, Ray C. Lichtenwalter, conductor.
- Commissioned by the University of Texas at Arlington Wind Ensemble/Ray C. Lichtenwalter at the request of the students of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma at UTA.
- Utilizing the the Bach chorale prelude; “Nur den lieben Gott lasst walten” (If you only trust in God to guide you”) this was composed for Ray Lichtenwalter, in memory of his wife Susan.
- “The opening declamatory statement of the hymn tune by the brass and percussion, and then by the full ensemble, sets the stage for a work which dramatically captures both the conflict and the celebration of human life.” – Maslanka
- The work is a large fantasia interweaving variations on the hymn with related thematic material.
- The text of the hymn is as follows:
“If you but trust in God to guide you
And place your confidence in Him,
You’ll find Him always there beside you,
To give you hope and strength within.
For those who trust Gods changeless love
Build on the rock that will not move.”

Symphony No. 4 (1993) 29 minutes Gr. VII
- Premiered Feb. 1994 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 and director, Jerry Junkin
- based on a joy for life. He found this inspiration in many things including the landscape of Montana and Idaho.
- The telling of Lincoln’s funeral procession by Illinoisian Poet, Carl Sandburg is used as inspiration as well. Maslanka thinks Lincoln serves as a model for dealing with the struggles of the current time.
- The hymn tune Old Hundred as well as other hymn tunes (the Bach chorales “Only Trust in God to Guide You” and “Christ Who Makes Us Holy”), and original melodies which are hymn-like in nature, are used throughout.
- Psalm 100 was also part of the basis for the work. It reads in part:
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord
with gladness; come before His presence with singing… Enter into
His gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise: be
thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”
- While not Christian in his own ideology, he uses these Christian symbols because they are part of our cultural heritage.

Mass (1996) revised (2005) 105Min
- composed for SATB Chorus, Boys Chorus, Soprano & Baritone soli, Organ, and Symphonic Wind Ensemble
- Premiered April 1996 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Tucson, AZ, by the University of Arizona Wind Ensemble, Gregg Hanson, conductor.
- Commissioned by a consortium headed by the University of Arizona Wind Ensemble and Gregg Hanson
- This is complete setting the Latin Mass, intercut with solo songs on poems of Richard Beale.
- dedicated to the generations of Maslanka’s family – his grandfathers and grandmothers, his father Stanley, his mother Mary, his brothers John and Robert, his wife Alison, his children Stephen, Matthew and Kathryn – and to the continued opening of the human spirit in this age of transformation.
- This the second work that utilizes texts by Beale, he is also the poet behind Litany for Courage and the Seasons which is 6 settings for choir.
- The full text for the mass can be found at

Song Book(2001) 45min
- Commissioned by a consortium of universities headed by Larry Gookin, Director of Bands, and Hal Ott, Professor of Flute at Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA.
- scored for Flute and Wind Ensemble as a concerto.
- 5 movements: I. A Song of Coming Awake, II. Solvitur Ambulando(it is solved by walking) III. In Loving Memory, IV. In the Crucible of Your Pain, and V. A Song for the End of Time
- The title comes out of the intimate nature of the music, and the voice-like quality of the flute.
- The piece is based on three chorales by J.S. Bach, which Maslanka uses frequently.

Give Us This Day: Short Symphony for Wind Ensemble (2005) 17 minutes Gr. V
- The work is divided into two movements. I. and II.(with a symphonic character)
- Commissioned by Eric Weirather, Director of Bands at Rancho Buena Vista High School in Oceanside, CA, (San Diego area).
- Title comes from the Lord's Prayer, but the inspiration for this music is Buddhist.
- Written with ideas from a reflection on reading a book by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced "Tick Not Hahn") entitled "For a future to be Possible."
- The theory is that future for the planet is only possible if individuals become deeply mindful of themselves, deeply connected to who they really are. Maslanka says this is the issue for world peace.
-Ends with a modal setting of the Chorale melody "Vater Unser in Himmelreich" ("Our Father in Heaven"), #110 from the 371 Four-Part Chorales by J.S. Bach.
Other Works for Winds:
Concerto for Alto Saxophone (2000), Concerto for Marimba (1990), Concerto for Piano, Winds, and Percussion (1979), Desert Roads: Four Songs for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble (2004), Four Pieces for Band (1980), Golden Light (1990), Heart Songs (1998), Hell's Gate (1997), Montana Music: Chorale Variations (1993), Morning Star (1997), Mother Earth (2006), Prelude on a Gregorian Tune(1981), Rollo Takes a Walk (1980), Sea Dreams for Two Horns and Wind Ensemble (1998), Symphony No. 3 (1991), Symphony No. 5 (2000), Symphony No. 7 (2008), Tears (1994), Testament (2001), A Tuning Piece: Songs of Fall and Winter (1995), Traveler, UFO Dreams: Concerto for Euphonium (1999), Variants on a Hymn Tune (1995), Alex and The Phantom Band (2001), Concerto for Trombone and Wind Ensemble (2007), Procession of the Academics (2007- For ISU graduation), and A Carl Sandburg Reader (2007)

No comments: