Added the below clip to the 19th century timeline (first half). Normally I would only provide one clip per piece in the timeline, but hey–it’s Joe Alessi with New York! The trombone soli, by the way, is at 5:24. Enjoy!
Really beautiful alto trombone playing! Added the following two clips to the 18th Century Timeline of Michael Mulcahy’s solo premiere with the Chicago Symphony, playing Leopold Mozart’s Concerto.
Mulcahy’s alto playing encompasses many of the best elements writers have historically found in the alto trombone (see Alto Quotes): purity (Kastner, 1839); soft brilliancy (William Alexander Barrett, 1879); admirable timbre (Charles Widor, 1904); a certain transparency, even gracility, in general effect; (Horatio Parker 1917); and a lighter, sweeter sound than the tenor (Blatter, 1980).
19th Century (1st half): Rossini, La Gazza Ladra; Schubert, Symphony No. 9; Berlioz, Symphony Fantastique; Wagner, Tannhauser; Berlioz, Hungarian March
19th Century (2nd half): Verdi, Requiem; Wagner, Ride of the Valkyries
The problem with YouTube clips for this kind of stuff is that it’s hit and miss: some are excellent (e.g., I was excited to find the old Chicago section playing Tannhauser under Solti), but many are less than desirable. Hopefully the ones included in the timeline are good enough to at least provide a taste for the trombone part and its role in the piece. I’ve embedded a few of the clips below to pique your interest; see the Timeline for the others!
1830—Hector Berlioz writes Symphony Fantastique, one of the earliest orchestral works to give trombones a prominent, independent role.
1845—Richard Wagner, Tannhauser (trombone soli in clip below is at 2:37).
1874—Giuseppe Verdi composes his Manzoni Requiem, often called his “greatest opera,” in honor of poet-patriot Alessandro Manzoni. Premiered a year later at the Church of San Marco, Milan, the work calls for 3 trombones. The “Dies irae,” in particular, in which “volcanic anger is depicted by the powerful brass and timpani,” utilizes trombone prominently (Chase 300).
Added several jazz clips to the 20th Century Trombone History Timeline. Below are a few, along with their related timeline entries, to whet your appetite.
1917—New Orleans, Louisiana: Trombonist Eddy Edwards, performing as a member of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, participates in the first commercial recordings of what is advertised as jazz. Edwards is considered by some to be the first jazz trombonist to gain national fame (Dietrich 17).
1920s—Kid Ory (1890-1973), one of the first bonafide jazz trombonists, is a member of Louis Armstrong’s famous Hot Five and helps define the role of trombone in Dixieland playing. In the words of Leonard Feather, “Ory is the most famous of the original ‘tailgate’ trombone men, using the instrument for rhythm effect, fills and glissandi, but also playing solos in a rough, forceful style” (Feather 373).
1923—A photo shows valve trombone player Juan Tizol with Duke Ellington’s orchestra (see facing image; public domain; source: wikipedia commons). A Puerto Rican native, Tizol becomes a longstanding member of Ellington’s orchestra, performing with the group from 1929 to 1944. He also evolves into a well-respected composer, writing such Ellington standards as “Perdido” and “Caravan.”
1926—“Tricky Sam” (Joe) Nanton joins Duke Ellington band. Specializing in use of plunger mute and “wa-wa” solos, he remains with Ellington until his death in 1948 (Feather 347). In the clip below from 1943, Nanton’s solo starts at :54.
1928—Jazz trombonist Jack Teagarden (1905-64) becomes the first white musician to record with a black band (Louis Armstrong, “Knockin’ a Jug”). On Teagarden’s influence at this time, Leonard Feather later says, “The advent of Jack Teagarden on the jazz scene in the late 1920s brought a new style to the annals of both jazz singing and trombone: a style that defies classification and has moved musicians of every school to the expression of unqualified enthusiasm” (Feather 438). The clip below from 1951 shows Teagarden’s famous technique of substituting a glass for the instrument’s bell section.
1954—J. J. Johnson and Kai Winding team up to tour and record as a quintet. The duo continues to play together off and on for decades; the clip below is from 1982.
Added another clip to the 17th century timeline (first half), this one belonging to a genre that historian Jerome Roche calls the “trombone motet.” It’s a beautiful sonority. The clip and attached caption are below. Notice, incidentally, that the image with the clip is possibly from this timeline (1615, Lionello Spada; see the identical way the picture is clipped and the tint of the scan).
1620—Italy: Ercole Porta’s Corda Deo dabimus, contained in the collection Sacro convito, is scored for soprano voice, alto voice, and 3 trombones. Historian Jerome Roche later coins the phrase “trombone motet” for this type of piece, a genre that culminates in Schütz’s Absalom fili mi (1629) (Roche, North Italian 82). Also from the same collection is Porta’s Messe secunda toni, which calls for 2 violins and 3 trombones to accompany a 5-part choir; when doublings occur, trombones double the 3 lowest voices (Schnoebelen, The Role of the Violin).
I decided to add audio/video clips to the Trombone History Timeline. This will probably be an ongoing thing, but initially I’ve added two dozen YouTube clips. Below is a breakdown by page, as well as a few highlights to grab your interest.
16th century: Striggio, Gabrieli (multiple)
17th century (1st half): Monteverdi (multiple), Massaino, Schütz, Schein, Grandi, Marini
17th century (2nd half): Hake, Locke, Schütz, Biber
18th century: Fux (multiple), Gossec, Mozart (multiple)
19th century: Schumann
20th century: Stravinsky, Bartok
1597—Venice: Giovanni Gabrieli writes several works that feature trombone prominently. Sonata pian e forte is an 8-part canzona for two choirs; the first calls for 3 trombones and a cornetto, the second for 3 trombones and a violin. Canzon Quarti Toni is a 15-part work that calls for violin, 2 cornetts, and 12 trombones. Canzon in Echo Duodecimi Toni is scored for 8 cornetts and 2 trombones, while Canzon sudetta accomodata per concertar con l’Organo calls for 8 cornetts, 2 trombones, and organ (Winkler 298). Many additional Gabrieli works feature trombone prominently, ranging from 4-part canzonas (1 cornett and 3 trombones) to 22-part canzonas. A large body of Gabrieli’s concerted music for voices with instruments also features trombone prominently; for example, Quem vidistis pastores a 14, which utilizes 3 trombones, and Surrexit Christus a 16, which calls for 4 trombones. According to musicologist David Schulenberg, “the most important instruments in this music [Venetian polychoral works]—after the organ, which furnished the basso continuo—were the cornetto and the sackbut.”
1607—Mantua, Italy: Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, considered by many the first true opera, uses 5 trombones (2 altos, 2 tenors, and a bass). Trombones are particularly prominent in the underworld scenes (Daubeny 95). An ensemble of trombones and cornettos plays in acts III and IV.
1664—Heinrich Schütz writes his Christmas History, which includes a pair of trombones acting as obbligato instruments and specifically representing high priests (Smallman 151).
1767—Salzburg, Austria: The skeptical Archbishop locks 11-year-old Mozart in a room by himself to see if he can really compose without help from his father. Mozart writes the cantata Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots, K 35, which uses solo alto trombone in Christ’s aria, “Jener Donnerworte Kraft.”
1918—Igor Stravinsky’s septet, The Soldier’s Tale, makes extensive soloistic use of trombone. The performance in the below YouTube clip begins at 11:40.
Some pretty amazing playing:
Simple but beautiful. A euphonium clip from another one of my former teachers, Brian Bowman, now euphonium professor at University of North Texas. Hard to find a better euphonium sound anywhere. Trombonists can learn from the lyrical approach as well…