David Holsinger was born in Hardin, Missouri, December 26, 1945. His compositions have won four major competitions, including a two time ABA Ostwald Award. His compositions have also been finalists in both the DeMoulin and Sudler competitions. He holds degrees from Central Methodist College, Fayette, Missouri, and Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg. Holsinger has completed course work for a DMA at the University of Kansas. The composer was recently honored by Gustavus Adolphus College with the awarding of a Doctor of Humane Letters Degree for lifetime achievement in composition and the Gustavus Fine Arts Medallion, the division’s highest honor, designed and sculpted by renowned artist, Paul Granlund. Holsinger, as the fourth composer honored with this medal, joins a distinguished roster which includes Gunther Schuller, Jan Bender, and Csada Deak. Holsinger is the Conductor of the Wind Ensemble at Lee University, in Cleveland, Tennessee.
(short biography courtesy http://americanbandmasters.org/award/HOLSINGER.HTM)
Some more of my own thoughts on Holsinger: he is nothing if not a prolific composer for band. While he has his occassional tics (ostinatos, an “everything including the kitchen sink” approach to percussion), his music is consistently thrilling to play. His faster pieces blaze by in a whirlwind of excitement, and his slower numbers are thoughtful and genuinely beautiful. It is for these reasons that he is a favorite of players and audiences alike.
Holsinger has his own website: davidrholsinger.com, which answers really ANY questions you might possibly have about him, including a fascinating testimonial about the search for his birth mother. There is much multi-media content as well, including videos of him ruminating on expressive performance. Definitely check it out! Also, Absolute Astronomy did an extensive profile on him that is worth a look.
Holsinger provides his own program notes for 1994’s Gypsydance:
Once again this composer draws inspiration from his admiration of the piano works of Bela Bartok for young players. Many times in the early “Mikrokosmos“, we find Bartok attempting to free [his son] Peter’s mind from the “box” mentality by shifting accents in established meters or, as is done in Holsinger’s GYPSYDANCE, shifting keys within a single key signature. The key signature says E-flat, but no… we obviously start in F minor, hop and skip our way through the home key… and end the piece in B-flat! GYPSYDANCE also lets the student stylistically explore parallel staccato and full value melodic lines.
Holsinger goes on with learning objectives about style and tonality/modality. To paraphrase: students should be able to play eighth and quarter notes in staccato, accented, and non-legato (regular, unmarked) style. The piece explores modes, particularly F dorian and E-flat major (ionian), and it includes a scale exercise for wind players to help spell that out.
A middle school plays an admirable performance of Gypsydance:
Bartok’s Mikrokosmos, from which Holsinger drew his inspiration, is a progressive piano method spanning six volumes that begins with the very simplest melodies and progresses to full-fledged virtuoso concert pieces. It uses Hungarian folk songs for much of its melodic material. Here are some examples from volume 2: