My Meeting with Stephen Dankner

This past Thursday I had the wonderful opportunity to meet one of my favorite composers, Stephen Dankner. I have corresponded with Steve since I began my doctoral studies in 2005, played some of his music (including his Sonata, Piano Quartet, Symphony), and have listened to several more of his works on CD and in live performance. It was great to finally meet him in person and converse for a few hours at his home in Massachusetts.

Steve’s Sonata was one of the first saxophone works I heard when I began my undergraduate degree at Fredonia (20 years ago already!), and I was completely blown away by it. Dr. Gwozdz, who would later become my teacher at Southern Miss, recorded the Sonata at Fredonia, and released it on CD. I remember sitting in my dorm room and listening to the Sonata repeatedly, following along with the score, completely captivated. Fast forward about nine years, and I’m now studying it with the person for whom it was written and performing it in recital. I sent Steve a copy of my program and a CD of the performance, exchanged a few emails, and did the same when I performed his Piano Quartet (which includes saxophone instead of viola) two years later.

Through a series of emails and conversations with Steve, we agreed to meet and discuss music, the saxophone, and anything else that came up. These conversations will serve as the basis for an article I will begin writing shortly about Steve and his music, specifically that for the saxophone. His admiration for our instrument is inspiring, and I hope to capture that in my prose. If you are not familiar with his music, please visit his website and check it out. I hope that you will find it as enjoyable as I do.