1891—London, England: Explanatory notes from an exhibition of musical instruments includes the following about the trombone family in England: “The family of trombones consists in the present day of the alto in e-flat or f, the tenor in B-flat, and the bass in G or F. The F bass trombone is in constant use in Germany, but unfortunately is little employed in this country” (Day, Descriptive Catalogue 176).
Many of the entries from the Alto in Treatises page had not yet been included in the Alto Trombone Timeline, so those were added to the timeline. They include many primary sources relevant to alto trombone history, including those by Seyfried/Albrechtsberger, Prout, Barrett, Claus, Schroeder, Vincent, Elson, Ergo, Clappé, Forsyth, Gilson, and White.
Decided to post these 19th century orchestra seating plans as a blog entry instead of in the Trombone Timeline, mainly for reasons of space. They are 15 seating plans from the year 1844, all of German/Austrian orchestras, as published in Ferdinand Gassner’s Partiturkenntnis (images public domain). I think they’re pretty intriguing. Trombones are included in almost all the orchestras, labeled variously as tromboni, posaunen, and their abbreviations. Click on each image for a larger version. It would appear that, for the most part, we’ve been in the back of the band for a long time!
Made the following update to the Alto in Treatises page, giving a summary of specific keys that writers have historically assigned to the alto trombone. For more on alto trombone keys, see also the Extant Altos page, which lists alto trombones manufactured before 1800, along with their respective keys.
OVERALL KEY TOTALS:
GERMANY: 14 D/E-flat, 1 B-flat
Christoph and Stössel (1736)—D
Fröhlich (c. 1811)—B-flat/E-flat (contradictory)
UNITED KINGDOM: 10 E-flat, 3 F, 1 E
Mandel (1859)—E-flat, E, F
Stone/Grove (1879-90)—E-flat, F
Encyclopaedia Britannica (1888)—E-flat, F
FRANCE: 5 E-flat
Braun (c. 1795)—E-flat
AUSTRIA: 1 E-flat, 1 B-flat
BELGIUM: 3 E-flat
ITALY: 1 E-flat
US/CANADA: 6 E-flat, 1 F
L. Elson (1900)—E-flat
A. Elson (1922)—F
Made the below update about Seyfried’s edition of Albrechtsberger’s treatise to the Alto in Treatises page. This is a significant piece of the puzzle in the history of the alto trombone because 1) the original Albrechtsberger treatise does not provide enough information to definitively distinguish the key of the alto trombone, particularly if you acknowledge the relatively-common historical practice of “falset tone” technique–lipping notes–in brass performance practice; 2) Seyfried was in a uniquely qualified position to clarify the issue, given that he was not only a student of Albrechtsberger’s, but he was also a particularly active Viennese composer and conductor who was intimately familiar with Viennese instrumentation practices; and 3) Seyfried’s edition clearly establishes the Viennese alto trombone as an instrument in E-flat.
1826—Vienna, Austria: Ignaz von Seyfried, in his revision of Albrechtsberger’s treatise of 1790 (Sämmtliche Schriften), clarifies the pitch of the alto trombone as E-flat, appending the facing alto trombone position chart (see facing image; public domain) (Albrechtsberger-Seyfried). Not only was Seyfried in the unique position of having been a pupil of Albrechtsberger’s, but he proceeded to become an active Viennese composer and conductor as well. “His versatility,” explains Grove’s, “won him a unique place in Vienna’s musical life.” He regularly conducted at least 2 orchestras in Vienna, supplying them with numerous works himself, and was on friendly terms with many prominent musicians of Vienna, including Mozart and Beethoven. Seyfried conducted the premiere of Fidelio,along with many other early performances of important works of the era (New Grove, Seyfried 184).
Some pretty amazing playing: