At the age of 16, after composing a terrible quartet while bored in English class, Dan decided that this was not where his talents lie. He decided to give up on composing and spend all his time with the violin. In 2018, at the ripe (midlife crisis) age of 40, somebody said, “do you do anything creative?” “Uh, I’ve played the violin day in and day out for 36 years.” “Yeah, but you just play other people’s music, right?” Astonished and horrified, he explained the art of perfecting one’s ability to play an instrument, develop a unique tone and style, and interpret the masterworks. He then realized she was kind of right... he only plays other people’s music. Ouch. His first attempts back high school were pathetic, but after all, music composition is a craft that needs to be learned and developed, just like anything else, right?  It occurred to him that it's okay to compose music that isn’t great, or even good. In fact, most people compose really bad music, and “I can too!”

He then began private composition studies with Cindy Cox, Chair of the Department of Music at University of California, Berkeley, and began on his first composition. Six months later, he performed three original works at a private house concert, receiving overwhelming support for him to continue. A few months after that, he composed “Are You Sure About This?” to perform with the Farallon Quintet at the Second Sunday Chamber Series at the Swedenborgian Church of San Francisco. He received a standing ovation and the next day they commissioned him to write a piece for their 125th anniversary; Earth-Mother was to be premiered on June 7th, 2020, but cancelled due to Covid-19. 

Dan was recently invited to perform his  "Nue aux Cheveux Roux- Hommage á Henner"  at the Musée Jean-Jacques Henner in Paris, which will take place on June 12th, 2022.    During the pandemic, he was commissioned by Hunters Point Shipyard Artists to compose and record the music for their Socially Distanced Artists Series, then invited to compose a new piece to perform with Trio Solano at Music on the Hill, which was streamed on October 18th, 2020.  Dan is currently focusing on pieces inspired by visual art and is accepting commissions.  "Timelessand "An Animated Street in Autumnwere both praised by audiences.  "Inevitable Entails" for violin and cello, based on the art of Beth Davila Waldman, was premiered on April 25th in a streamed concert for Calliope: East Bay Music and Arts.  In 2021 he received a grant from InterMusic SF to make a video of his composition "Ehrlichia," Rhapsody in Discomfort #6.  Current commissions include a string quartet, a violin/trombone duet, and a violin/cimbalom duet.


Flanagan’s music is a mixture of minimalist textures, traditional harmonies, extended techniques, ridiculous gimmicks, grotesque juxtapositions, and twisted humor; there are occasionally fleeting moments of beauty.  

List of Works

In order of composition (Flanagan Unabridged Catalogue):

Perlmutter (FUC 16) (after the painting Cattails on the Waterfront by Jennifer Perlmutter,                  commissioned by Gold Coast Chamber Players)

           for solo violin          


Monterey Sentinels (FUC 15) (after the painting by Joaquin Turner)

            for solo violin       


Plop Squeak Music (FUC 14) (commissioned by Bruce Chrisp and Gabrielle Wunsch)

           for violin and trombone

Inevitable Entails (FUC 13) (after the five-painting series by Beth Davila Waldman)

           for violin and cello

"Ehrlichia," Rhapsody in Discomfort #6 (FUC 12) (commissioned by Paul and Vicky Ehrlich)

           for string trio (violin, viola, cello)

"Timeless," Rhapsody in Discomfort #5 (FUC 11)

           (after the metronome sculpture series Seduced By Syncopation by Sean O'Donnell)

           for solo violin and acoustic metronomes

An Animated Street in Autumn (FUC 10) (after the painting by JF Raffaëlli)

           for solo violin

Rhapsody in Discomfort #4 "The Lump in My Throat" (FUC 9)

           for solo violin

Rhapsody in Discomfort #3 "Covids "Я" Us" (FUC 8)

           for solo violin

The War on Christmas for 2.5 Violins (FUC 7)

for two violins, a garbage violin, an axe, and optional whoopee cushions

Nue aux Cheveux Roux- Hommage á Henner (FUC 6)

for violin and piano

Chorales and Interludes (FUC 5)

for solo violin

Are You Sure About This? (FUC 4)

for quintet (clarinet and string quartet)

Rhapsody in Discomfort #2 “Where’s My Monet?” (FUC 3)

for cello and two violins

Interlace (FUC 2)

for two violins

“Borderline Phantasia,” Rhapsody in Discomfort #1 (FUC 1)

for solo violin

"While every piece on the program was compelling in itself, the initial allure to this critic was the world premiere of “Hommage a Jean-Jacques Henner” by Dan Flanagan.  In addition to his exploits as a widely known violinist, Flanagan is a noted connoisseur of art. It was the art of the great French painter Henner which inspired Flanagan to compose his “Nue aux cheveaux roux” for violin and piano.  The key word here is “inspired“. It was obvious from the outset that we were going to be rewarded with an outstanding new composition. Flanagan’s hommage brings to mind Debussy at his most romantic. It is beautifully laid out with lyric singing passages alternating with mysterious tremelos in the violin and discordant rumbling in the piano. It will make a welcome addition to the violin repertoire. The composer played it brilliantly."    

                                                    ~Joseph Gold (The Musical Gourmet, Piedmont Post)