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Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on August 30, 1943, David Maslanka began his musical training on the clarinet. He attended the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music where he studied the clarinet with George Waln and composition with Joseph Wood. He studied for a year at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and did his graduate work in composition (PhD, 1971) at Michigan State University with H. Owen Reed.
David Maslanka’s compositions have been performed extensively throughout the United States and in many places throughout the world. His works for winds and percussion have become standard repertoire for wind band and percussion ensembles. The band/ wind ensemble works include the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th Symphonies, and concert pieces such as A Child’s Garden of Dreams, Tears, Traveler, Testament and Give Us This Day –Short Symphony for Wind Ensemble. Percussion ensemble works include Arcadia II: Concerto for Marimba and Percussion Ensemble, Montana Music: Three Dances for Percussion, In Lonely Fields, for seven percussionists and chamber orchestra and Hohner, for large percussion orchestra. He has also composed an impressive series of works for solo instruments and wind ensemble including concerted works for flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, 2 horns, trombone, euphonium, marimba and two for piano. His catalog also contains a wide variety of chamber music, including three extraordinary wind quintets.
Recently Maslanka has returned to writing for orchestra with two exciting pieces, 11:11- A Dance at the Edge of the World and Symphony No. 6 – Living Earth, which have been recorded on the Albany label, with James Allen Anderson conducting the Appalachian Symphony Orchestra.
February, 2006 saw the revival, to great acclaim, of Maslanka’s largest scaled work, the monumental Mass (originally premiered in 1996), in a slightly revised and shortened version, by the combined choral and instrumental forces of the University of Miami, Miami, Florida under the direction of conductor Gary Green.
Maslanka’s style is characterized by a very up-to-the-minute blend of heart-felt lyricism and rhythmic drive, coupled with a remarkable ear for memorable sonorities. The music is notable for its poetry, warmth and spiritual qualities. Inspiration is frequently drawn from such fascinating sources as the dreams of a young girl as recorded by the great Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung (A Child’s Garden of Dreams), the work of African writer Ahmadou Kourouma (Tears) and the poetry of Richard Beale (A Litany for Courage and the Seasons and Mass).
Since the mid-nineties, Maslanka’s music has been deeply affected by his studies of the 371 Four-Part Chorales of J.S. Bach. As a musical and spiritual discipline he sings and plays chorales as a warm-up for his composing sessions. These sturdy and evocative melodies regularly find their way into his music and he has gone so far as to compile his own four-part settings of the familiar tunes, written in the old style.
Maslanka’s works have been recorded on the CRI, Mark, Novisse, Klavier, Cambria, Bis, Gia Wind Works, Naxos and Albany 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. He now lives in Missoula, Montana and devotes himself to composing and to frequent travels as a guest composer, conductor and lecturer. David Maslanka is a longtime member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).