Symphony IX (Maslanka)

From Wind Repertory Project
David Maslanka

David Maslanka

General Info

Year: 2011
Duration: c. 75:00
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Maslanka Press
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $699.00   |   Score Only (print) - $259.00


1. Preface: “Secrets” by W.S. Merwin – 2:40
2. Shall We Gather at the River – 12:40
3. Now All Lies Under Thee – 14:35
4. Fantasia on I Thank You God… – 4:45
5. Fantasia on O Sacred Head Now Wounded – 40:50

Shall We Gather at the River
Watch the Night With Me
Soul, How Have You Become So Unhappy
Whale Story (O Sacred Head Now Wounded)
O Sacred Head Now Wounded


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
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-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion I-VI, including:

  • Bass Drums (2)
  • Chimes
  • Crotales
  • Marimba I-II-III
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal (large)
  • Tam-tam
  • Tenor Drum
  • Xylophone



None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The symphony opens with a reading of the poem Secrets by W. S. Merwin, which is paralleled in the fourth movement by a reading of my brief Whale Story. Symphony No. 9 can be described as a large collection of instrumental songs which create a continuously moving tapestry of thoughts and images relating to the nature of memory, the life-giving creative force of water, and compassion, forgiveness, and rest. The flow of the entire symphony is toward the chorale melody O Sacred Head Now Wounded at the end of the fourth movement. While the symphony is of extended length, it is not physically fatiguing to perform. Its high demand is for patience in pacing and continuous attention by all ensemble members to each moment of musical sound.

This work was commissioned by Dr. Stephen K. Steele of Illinois State University who gathered a consortium of over 40 conductors, ensembles, and individuals, here and abroad, to support the work. It is in four movements, with a duration of about 75 minutes.

- Program Note by composer

Its primary melodic content comes from six chorales that are shown in the Movements, above. There are two literary sources: "Secrets" from The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin, and the The Whale Story (O Sacred Head Now Wounded), written by the composer to augment the expressive power of the piece. In addition, four objects with deeper symbolic meaning are also represented musically:

  • Ground: Places signified by holy or church recognition.
  • River: Corresponds to the creative power of nature and time. The passage of time is irreversible and also provides a sense of loss and oblivion.
  • Ocean: The source of generation of all life.
  • Chickadees: Fearless and sharp-witted, the chickadee (a small bird indigenous to North America) is associated with identity, curiosity and joy. It is a reminder of humanity's divine construction with infinite potential to adjust and adapt.

Through the use of sacred chorales, literary texts and symbolic representations, Maslanka seeks to communicate four main ideas:

  • Time: Memory, the passing of time, "we flew through the years hearing them rush under us." – Merwin.
  • Water: Cleansing and life-giving power, Shall We Gather at the River and Whale Story.
  • Nature: Our ground, river, ocean, chickadees.
  • Grace: Compassion, forgiveness, rest.

- Program Note from Teaching Music through Performances in Band


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project John Hersey High School (Arlington Heights, Ill.) Band (Spencer Hile, conductor) - 6 May 2023

  • Dordt University (Sioux Center, Iowa) Wind Symphony (Onsby Rose, conductor) – 3 March 2020
  • Pittsburg (Kan.) State University Wind Ensemble (A. Douglas Whitten, conductor) – 20 February 2020
  • Warren Township High School (Gurnee, Ill.) Symphonic Band I (Christopher E. Jenkins, conductor) – 5 May 2018

The Ohio State University (Columbus) University Band (Onsby Rose, conductor) – 19 April 2018

  • Texas State University (San Marcos) Wind Symphony (Caroline Beatty, conductor) – 24 March 2018 (CBDNA 2018 Southwestern Conference, Houston, Texas)
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Ensemble (Kevin Holzman, conductor) – 18 September 2017
  • College-Conservatory of Music (Cincinnati) Wind Ensemble (Kevin Michael Holzman, conductor) – 18 September 2017
  • University of Nebraska (Lincoln) Wind Ensemble (Carolyn Barber, conductor) – 19 April 2017
  • Mountain View High School (Vancouver, Wash.) – 2015
  • Illinois State University (Normal) Wind Ensemble (Stephen K. Steele, conductor) – 11 November 2011 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Maslanka, D. (2011). Symphony No. 9 [score]. Maslanka Press: [New York].
  • Perusal score
  • Wollam, Seth F., and Robert C. Taylor. "Symphony No. 9." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 10, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 1033-1046. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2015.