Composers Datebook®

Maslanka for winds

Composers Datebook - Jan. 31, 2024


Since the 18th century, Paris and Prague have been famous for producing some of the greatest wind players of Europe. And in the 19th century, Anton Reicha, who was born in Prague but died in Paris, wrote for those wind players a sizable body of quintets to showcase the agreeable blend of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and French horn.

In our own time, the number of professional wind quintets has increased dramatically, and, not surprisingly, contemporary composers are eager to create new works for them.

On today’s date in 1987, at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York, the Manhattan Wind Quintet premiered a piece by American composer David Maslanka — his Wind Quintet No. 2.

A clarinetist, Maslanka is particularly known for his works for wind ensembles, large and small. He describes his three-movement Wind Quintet No. 2 as follows:

“The first movement is fierce and somewhat daunting in its technical demands; the second is moody and elusive; the third is sweet and resigned.”

Music Played in Today's Program

David Maslanka (1943-2017) Wind Quintet No. 2; Manhattan Wind Quintet Albany 246

On This Day


  • 1759 - French composer a François Devienne, in Joinville;

  • 1797 - Austrian composer Franz Schubert, in Lichtenthal near Vienna;

  • 1906 - English composer Benjamin Frankel, in London;

  • 1937 - American composer and performer Philip Glass, in Baltimore, Maryland;

  • 1960 - English composer and pianist George Benjamin, in London;


  • 1727 - Handel: opera "Admeto" in London at the Haymarket Theater in London; This premiere was scheduled for earlier in the month, but was delayed awaiting the arrival in London of the Italian castrato Senesino, who was recovering from an illness (Gregorian date: Feb. 11);

  • 1925 - Vladimir Dukelsky(a.k.a. Vernon Duke): ballet "Zéphir et Flore" in Paris;

  • 1935 - Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Cello Concerto, by the New York Philharmonic, with Gregor Piatigorsky as the soloist;

  • 1943 - R. Strauss: "Divertimento on pieces by Couperin," in Vienna;

  • 1952 - Leon Kirchner: "Sinfonia" in New York City;

  • 1953 - Vittorio Giannini: opera "The Taming of the Shrew" (in concert form) in Cincinnati;

  • 1959 - Martinu: “Fantasia concertante” for piano and orchestra, in Berlin, with Margrit Weber the soloist;

  • 1986 - Joan Tower: Piano Concerto ("Homage to Beethoven"), by the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra conducted by Imre Pallo, with piano soloist Jacquelyn M. Helin;

  • 1987 - David Maslanka: Wind Quintet No. 2 at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in New York, by the Manhattan Quintet.

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About Composers Datebook®

Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.

He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.

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