24 New Timeline Entries

I’ve had a little time recently to work through some of my files and add quite a few entries to the Trombone History Timeline. Here are the new entries, in chronological order:


1500-1506—Bologna, Italy: Bolognese civic salary lists include payments 3 piffari, 2 trombones, 5 trumpets, a nakers player, and a harpist (Weiss, Bologna Q 18).

1509—Urbino, Italy: In Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier, one of the characters shares a joke involving a Brescian who visits Venice during the feast of the Assumption and sees a trombone for the first time. The country visitor mistakenly assumes the trombone tubing extends down the player’s throat as the trombone slide retracts (Cavallo, Joking Matters).

1546-47—Rome, Italy: In the extensive records of St. Peter’s cathedral, a note of payment to an instrumentalist other than the organist appears only 3 times between 1513 and 1578; 2 of the 3 are to a trombonist in 1546 and 1547 (the 3rd is to a cornettist in 1564) (Korrick, Instrumental Music in the Early 16th-Century Mass).

1551—Bologna, Italy: Trombone is included in a list of musical instruments that comprise part of a didactic game in Ringhieri’s Cento Giuochi Liberali (Haar, On Musical Games).

1559—Valencia, Spain: Author and former musician Jorge de Montemayor writes the pastoral novel, La Diana. In the story, Celia’s serenade, termed a “concierto que parescía una música celestial,” is performed by harpsichord, 3 trumpets, and a sackbut (Damiani, Music in La Diana).

1568—Florence, Italy: Wedding celebrations for the marriage of Virginia de’ Medici to Cesare d’Este include intermedii for the comedy L’Amico fide, by Giovanni Bardi. Music for the intermedii is by Bardi and Alessandro Striggio. In the 2nd intermedio, a “horrible old man with a scraggly beard, naked and covered with flames,” sings to the accompaniment of trombones and bass viols. In the 3rd intermedio, birds signaling the arrival of spring are accompanied by lutes, harps, muted cornets, trombones, and dulcians. In the 4th intermedio, an angry Neptune sings to the accompaniment of trombones, lutes, harps, and transverse flutes (Nagler, Theatre Festivals of the Medici 58-65).

1589—Pisa, Italy: At celebrations surrounding the visit of Christine [Madama Christierna de l’Oreno Gran duchessa di Toscana], a mock battle on the Arno River between Christians and Turks concludes with a performance of music by Antonio Buonavita in which the “Arabi” sing 3 ottave: the 1st is a solo aria; the 2nd is a work in 10 parts, performed by 52 people with 6 trombones, 4 cornetts, and organ; and the 3rd is a work in 20 parts, performed by the same forces as the 2nd ottava (Fenlon, Music and Culture in Late Renaissance Italy, 225).

1589—Norwich, England: Sir Francis Drake, sailing as second in command of a fleet under Sir John Norris in order to “singe the King of Spain’s beard” gets special permission to take with him, as his private band, the Norwich waits. The waits include trombone (among preparations for the trip is the purchase of a new saquebut case). The mortality of the trip is enormous; of the 6 waits who make the trip, only 2 return (Bridge, Town Waits and Their Tunes).

c. 1590—Florence, Italy: Jacopo Corsi acquires, to go with his large collection of musical instruments, two trombones brought from Nuremberg (Carter, Late Renaissance Florence 71).

1592—Naples, Italy: An inventory of holdings of the Spanish nobleman Marquis Ferdinando d’Alarçon includes what is probably a bass trombone (un trombone de biffali grande), as well as a trombone of old Cypriot copper (Uno trombone di ramo cipro vecchio) (Mammarella, Musical Instrument in a 1592 Inventory).

1599—London, England: A document signed by Queen Elizabeth approves the comparatively large salary, board, and livery of a sackbut player (Cooke, Queen Elizabeth and Her Court Musicians).

1600—Italy: Giovanni Artusi, in his treatise On the Imperfections of Modern Music, discusses numerous lessons that can be learned from a 1598 musical performance by nuns in Ferrara, including which instrument a person should play: “Those who are experienced on the trombone know how to adapt themselves to other instruments. However, they do not merely forsake this part for that, but they use the instrument on which, through long practice and natural inclination, they are excellent. They do not neglect proper instinct and natural choice, for example, by choosing the lute or double harp when they know how to play on other instruments more skillfully. Instead they pay attention to those toward which nature has given them particular inclination, and on which they have practiced long and assiduously” (Artusi 135).

1601—Naples, Italy: Scipione Cerreto lists musicians active in Naples in his treatise, Della prattica musica. Instrumentalists include players of trombone, shawm, cornett, lute, organ, viol, and seven-course guitar (Mammarella, Musical Instrument in a 1592 Inventory).

1602—Madrid, Spain: An inventory of musical instruments at the Royal Palace includes 9 trombones (sacabuches), several of which are among the most highly valued instruments in the inventory (McLeish, An Inventory of Musical Instruments).

1607—Lerma, Spain: Musical personnel are hired for the church of San Pedro. The initial 4 musicians are instrumentalist: 2 trombones, an alto shawm, and a bajón (Kirk, Instrumental Music in Lerma).

1610—Venice, Italy: Monteverdi’s 1610 Sextus part-book reveals what may be a doubling practice for trombonists of the time. As musicologist Andrew Parrott puts it, “At ‘Quia respexit’ the cornett III part shares a stave with trombone I, making it entirely feasible in this verse for one and the same player first to play cornett (of one size or another), then tenor sackbut, and finally cornett again, using the intervening woodwind duets to switch instruments” (Parrott, Monteverdi: Onwards and Downwards).

1619—Bristol, England: City leaders, who feel that the Bristol town waits, consisting of 4 players, need strengthening, resolve to grant a salary “to a fifth man to play with the other musitions of the City on the saggebutt to make up a fifth part.” (Bridge, Town Waits and Their Tunes).

c. 1640—Caltagirone (Sicily), Italy: By this approximate date, the standard makeup of the capella, a group of musicians maintained by the city to perform in various churches as appropriate, is the following: maestro, SATB, violin, lute, cornett, trombone, and organ (Dixon, Review of Musica Sacra).

1663—Celle, Germany: According to a written proposal, the Hofkapelle consists of 13 musicians, including a player of either trombone or bassoon (Schulze, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Orchestra).

1676—Gotha, Germany: A draft for a Kapelle at the court of Gotha calls for “one Kapellmeister; one singer each for bass, tenor, and alto; one falsettist; two boys; one very good organist; two violinists; and one trombonist or one harpist,” as well as “trumpeters, who will also provide music.” A proposal from Kapellmeister Mylius from the same year requests “two cornettists and three trombonists, who are likewise expected to perform capably on various string instruments” (Schulze, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Orchestra).

1696-1756—Bologna, Italy: The number of trombones used for the annual feast of San Petronio ranges from 2 to 6 players, considerably more than any other wind instruments (Schnoebelen, Performance Practices at San Petronio 44).

1705—Lübeck, Germany: Buxtehude calls for muted trombone in his Castrum doloris: “trombones and trumpets with mutes, and all other instruments similarly muted” (Schulze, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Orchestra).

1732—Venice, Italy: At St. Mark’s, when cathedral trombonist Lodovico Vaccio dies, he is replace by a trumpeter, because, in the words of the Procurators, trumpet is “an instrument better adapted to the use of modern orchestras [concerti].” Historian Denis Arnold points out that the Procurators were actually saving money with this change: whereas the new trumpeter was to be hired at a salary of 15 ducats a year, trombonists were usually paid 50 ducats (Arnold, Orchestras in Eighteenth-Century Venice).

1950—Milan, Italy: Casella and Mortari’s Italian orchestration text, La tecnica dell’ orchestra contemporanea, says trombone often has “grandiose, majestic, solemn, dramatic, violent and even ferocious moments (see Verdi’s Otello).” The authors also observe that the instrument is given a serious role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen, although the authors seem taken aback that in only a short time, jazz musicians have forced the trombone to take on “an unthinkably lively and joyful virtuosity” (Dalmonte, Towards a Semiology).