While attending Michigan State University, Maslanka studied composition with H. Owen Reed. He served over 20 years on the faculty at Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York and also served on the faculty at Sarah Lawrence College, New York University. Dr.
Maslanka was a freelance composer and had worked solely on commission since 1990. He lived in Missoula, Montana. Maslanka died on August 6, 2017 following a brief battle with colon cancer. Dr. Maslanka received five residence fellowships at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, and 1982), as well as generous grants from the University of Connecticut Research Foundation, the American Music Center, the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music, the State University of New York Research Foundation, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). He earned the National Endowment for the Arts Composer Award three times (1974, 1975, and 1989).
In 1999, he was awarded the National Symphony Orchestra regional composer-in-residence award. From 1980 until his death in 2017, Maslanka served as a guest composer for over 100 universities, music festivals, and conferences. Many of Maslanka’s compositions for winds and percussion have become established pieces in band repertoire. Among these pieces are A Child's Garden of Dreams, Rollo Takes a Walk, and numerous concertos featuring a wide variety of solo instruments, including euphonium, flute, piano, marimba, alto saxophone, and (most recently) trombone. Maslanka's second and fourth symphonies have become particularly popular wind literature.
His works for percussion include Montana Music: Three Dances for Percussion, Variations of 'Lost Love', My Lady White, Arcadia II: Concerto for Marimba and Percussion Ensemble, and Crown of Thorns. Maslanka also wrote a complete Mass for full choir, soprano, and baritone soli, with accompaniment by full symphonic band. Having spent his childhood in the New England area, a number of Maslanka's compositions were influenced by his close relationship with the ocean (Alexander 1998). Sea Dreams, for example, as well as the second movement of his second symphony, reference large bodies of water.
Maslanka's works have been recorded and produced primarily by Albany Records, as well as Cambria Records, Crest, CRI, Klavier Music Productions, Mark, Novisse, St. Olaf, and Umass labels. Most of his music was published by Carl Fischer. In a letter to a young composer, Dr. Maslanka shared some ideas on his compositional style and method: "You ask about the soul nature of music, and are music and soul the same thing.
Music is one of the expressions of soul. A person does not have to be consciously aware of soul connection for soul force to be expressed through that person. The conscious mind and the deep unconscious are two different things, but everyone has both of them. The unconscious can push its way into consciousness unbidden.
Often this makes people do neurotic or crazy things – compulsive behavior of one kind or another. If a person is prepared artistically, then a sudden eruption of soul force might appear as a composition or a powerful performance. The person may have no idea where the force came from. This was my experience as a young composer.
As I gained technical skill, there would be sudden bursts of music that 'appeared.' There was always the hard work of getting it composed properly, but fairly early on I learned to follow my instincts when something powerful began to happen. The impulse to write, having a 'true voice', and having the necessary technical equipment are all different issues. There are fine technicians who have no true voice, and people with true voice who have struggled with technique." Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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