Alan Theisen (b. 4 October 1981; Port Huron, Michigan) is a Ph.D. graduate assistant in the Department of Music Theory at the Florida State University.

Composing since the age of sixteen, he has produced a steadily growing body of work distinguished by its musical energy and concentration of expression.

Representative works by Theisen include a Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, Variations on a Theme of Gretchaninov, Eclogue for flute, and the Concerto for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra (premiered by soloist Lawrence Gwozdz and the Szczecin Philharmonic in 2004). Recent compositions and commissions include Ritorno for flute and cello and a Triple Concerto. Noted composer Dimitri Terzakis commends Theisen's oeuvre as being "the product of a unique talent."

As a saxophonist, Theisen has toured the United States and Canada with the Sax-Chamber Orchestra, performing at two World Saxophone Congresses (Montreal - 2000, Minneapolis - 2003). He studied the instrument with internationally-recognized performer Lawrence Gwozdz and participated in masterclasses with famed saxophone pioneer Jean-Marie Londeix. No stranger to the podium, Theisen has been a guest conductor with several ensembles.

In an effort to showcase both his own original compositions and pieces by other contemporary composers, he founded the Intégrales New Music Festival in 2005. Now an annual event, Intégrales NMF features world-premiere performances by nationally recognized musicians. Intégrales has expanded to include musical collaborations with artists, authors, and dancers. Theisen wrote his undergraduate thesis on György Ligeti's Piano Etudes, and has authored several papers on topics including Elliott Carter, film editing, composition as analysis, and Michael Brecker.

Other interests include mathematics, film criticism, and philosophy; in addition, Theisen has performed the role of Oberon in a production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, for which he also wrote the incidental music.

Theisen lives with his wife (and puts up with their two cats) in Tallahassee, Florida.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006
An Oriental Parable?

A famous tale:

A student decides he wants to learn the way of Zen and seeks the guidance of a famous master for three long years.

At the end of that time, the student addressed the master while packing his bags to leave.

"Master," he said, "I have done everything I was instructed to do and after three arduous years of meditation and exercises, I still have not achieved enlightenment."

The master replied: "You have spent three years with me. Spend three more months."

The student did as he was told. At the end of those three months he had still not reached enlightenment. He wondered what to do next. The master instructed him to stay three more weeks.

The student meditated and studied harder than he ever had during those three weeks, but still nothing happened.

"Master," the student cried after the three weeks had concluded, "I have done the time, but still I have not realized the way of Zen!"

The master lost patience and barked: "Stay three more days. If, on the dawn of the third day, you still have not reached enlightenment, I will stab you to death with my sword."

On the second night, the student was enlightened.


Is this a parable for music? The act of composition? Music degrees? University training?