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 will be premiered on June 7th, 2020.


Flanagan’s music is a mixture of minimalist textures, traditional harmonies, extended techniques, ridiculous gimmicks, grotesque juxtapositions, childish ideas, and twisted humor; there are occasionally fleeting moments of beauty.  He is currently accepting commissions... and he works cheap.

List of Works

In order of composition (Flanagan Unabridged Catalogue):


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

for solo violin

Interlace (FUC 2)

for two violins


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

for cello and two violins


Are You Sure About This? (FUC 4)

for quintet (clarinet and string quartet)


Rhapsody in Discomfort #3 “Chorales and Interludes” (FUC 5)

for solo violin


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

for violin and piano

The War on Christmas for 2.5 Violins (FUC 7)

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


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

           for solo violin


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

           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)

© 2020 by Dan Flanagan