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David Holsinger

David Holsinger

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General Info

Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Manuscript
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II (divisi)
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion I-VI

(percussion detail desired)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

About 16 years ago, we performed a concert march by composer Lamont Downs entitled DDA40X, a tribute to an experimental, high-horsepower diesel locomotive of the 1960’s. A few years later, we featured composer Eric Whitacre’s eulogy to the old west Steam Locomotive, Ghost Train. As a recognized train lover, music friends have asked repeatedly where my “train piece” is?

This is it. (Railroad history – Whether you want or not!)

The EMD (General Motors) BL-2 was a four-axle diesel locomotive built in 1948 through 1950. Often considered the “Ugly Duckling” of diesel offerings from EMD, the BL-2 led the way for the company’s widely successful “General Purpose” series of locomotives.

EMD’s diesel program was well underway in the late 1940s and early 1950s, thanks to the success of the company’s demonstrations across the country. While the F-Units in production were great for moving trains over the railroad, their stylish full-width carbody made it difficult for locomotive crews to see to the rear of the locomotive. Since the engine inside the locomotive’s hood didn’t take up the full carbody width, it seemed only logical that the hood could be “cut away” a bit, to allow the crew to see the train more easily from inside the cab, and also to ride more safely outside the cab, but while hopefully retaining the style and looks of a full width streamlined style.

Limiting the BL-2 locomotive’s success were several mechanical and ergonomic drawbacks. The mechanical components within the engine compartment were difficult to access and maintain, reducing its appeal among railroad shop crews. The locomotive’s carbody lacked the full-length walkways, making it difficult for the brakeman or switchman to move around the exterior, which, of course, was the entire reasoning for a new design!

While thousands of the streamlined F-Units were built and sold throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, only 58 of the BL units were produced and of those, it was only a few years before they were either mothballed or disassembled.

As a model railroader, I suppose I’ve always liked the looks of this “unfortunate little engine who just couldn’t do anything right”! So, what do I do but compose music in its honor. This is what railroad composer nerds do.

- Program Note by composer


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Lee University (Cleveland, Tenn.) Wind Ensemble (David Holsinger, conductor) – 19 November 2019

Works for Winds by This Composer