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  trombone concerto  Team Gaughan at 14:08 on 24 April 2009

I have been listening to & studying a lot of music by Peter Maxwell Davies recently and really enjoy all his music, one thing I realised however is that he has written a whole load of concertos for so many instruments yet never one for the trombone or tuba. Okay so the Strathclyde concertos he wrote for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra didnít have heavier brass so he couldnít but he has written separate piccolo, violin, piano and trumpet concertos so why not the trombone or tuba? They are both marvellously expressive and virtuosic instruments too. So that made me wonder why certain instruments seem to have a whole load of concertos, Max is writing a new violin concerto, okay excellent, but with the likes of Christian Lindberg and Ian Bousfield playing the trombone anything is possible from the most gorgeous high legato almost reminiscent of a cello and unbelievable virtuosity too that almost beggars belief!!! So why do certain instruments get over-looked I wonder? The viola, harp and trombone seem to stick out the most, even the oboe or tuba has a couple of fine concertos. I have written a viola concerto myself, and a harp concertante piece, I am also a fan of the mandolin and accordion. But the trombone? What other instrument has such quiet lyrical vocal qualities combined with such power that it could play louder than the whole orchestra combined.

  Re: trombone concerto  IanTipping at 14:54 on 24 April 2009

Ah yes! Recognition for the king of instruments! I played Trombone all through school and university and seriously considered playing professionally for a few years after. One of the reasons I gravitated towards the Bass Guitar/Double Bass (which are my main source of income) was, aside from the greater availibility of work on bass, the lack of pieces that really show off the incredible versatility of the instrument. I always found it quite frustrating that although there are myriad experimental, avant-garde-ish pieces written for it (no doubt inspired by the rather brilliant sequenza by Berio but sadly rarely getting close to it in imagination or musicality), there is so little that shows off its breathtaking lyrical quality.

I suspect a large amount of this is that it seems to be one of the few instruments that the vast majority of composers still don't understand, being seen almost exclusively even today as the instrument that adds weight to the loud bits, these days usually on a fortissimo glissando chord (incidentally, for me one of the most annoyingly ubiquitous textural 'innovations' of the 20th century), rather than (probably) the one with the greatest dynamic range of any. I can remember when I was at the top of my game having people gasp at how quietly I could play, and I was by no means unusual.

Maybe we should start a campaign for everyone on the site, whether tonal, atonal or post-tonal, to write a concerto for the Trombone? What do you reckon? I reckon between us we can extend the limited repertoire in nothing but positive ways! Okay, I'm starting mine tonight....

By the way, I have one issue with your post - The trombone's high legato "almost reminiscent of the Cello"? I think it's quite a bit better than that.....

  Re: trombone concerto  Team Gaughan at 17:14 on 24 April 2009

Couldnít agree more!!!! It is the king of instruments. I admit it is also my childhood instrument and I greatly enjoyed playing it. I started in a brass band but ended up in an orchestra; I always enjoyed playing so much but wanted to study composition. Its even worse that I havenít composed a trombone concerto really!!!! I have been considering one for some time now. I too get bored with the experimental pieces, lots of multiphonics, lots of glissandos (which yes I hate doing apart from maybe Stravinsky who always had novel ideas) and lots of stuff that doesnít show off the instruments range, beauty and power. After all it has a massive range, bigger than most people realise, trills are wonderful and never used, it can play high and quietly and yes it is better than a cello, and sounds so amazing. For a skilled composer who really knows the instrument he could produce and amazing work.

I remember playing the alto high in its range and people couldnít believe it was possible when I did the same thing with the tenor and bass. I think we should start a campaign yes, to get people to write trombone concertos, and not awful things with glissandos all over the place, works that explore ever facet of the instrument. It seems people are amazed that it is both virtuosic and can play extremely quietly. I remember a friend accompanying me when I did the flight of the bumble bee and she stopped and laughed and said I didnít think it was possible, I had a similar reaction when I performed it. I purposefully performed works that people would be very surprised at.

Okay letís do it, letís start a write a trombone concerto campaign!!!!

  Re: trombone concerto  scott_good at 02:14 on 25 April 2009

Ya, more bone concertos!

I've got a sketch for a massive work, just need the opportunity.

But, I must disagree about a point - I think glissandos are fantabulous! Such a distinct character, and, can be used very in very subtle ways - textural - or, to emphasize phrasing gestures. I've jammed with some Iranian musicians, and they were blown away with the slide as I could use it to imitate the vocal bending.

They can also rip through a texture - add some flutter and yummy, it's like an avalanche.

Think of the Motorbike Concerto! I love the glissandos in that piece.

Also, add plunger and there is a whole new set of expressive techniques + other mutes. A harmon mute can blend beautifully with strings, and with the hand over the stem for lots of colour variety. Try loud cup mute - or bucket mute.

And yes, the soft dynamics are so good on a trombone - only percussion has as wide a dynamic range.

Trombone rules!!!!

  Re: trombone concerto  piargno at 03:46 on 25 April 2009

"What other instrument has such quiet lyrical vocal qualities combined with such power that it could play louder than the whole orchestra combined?"

The organ.

  Re: trombone concerto  Misuc at 16:36 on 25 April 2009

If Scott hadn't mentioned already I was going to comment his work. Also, don't forget the wonderful chamber music (trio sonatas etc.) of the early Baroque which features delicate and sociable virtuoso trombone parts e.g. Dario Castello,Giovanni Picchi, Frantisek Tuma, Schmelzer etc. and among contemporary composers the great Yugoslav trombonist Vinko Globokar,who uses all those 'gimmicky' effects so shamelessly but artistically and skillfully that they make a sort of inspired Dadaistic meta-music....

I find the agility, manoeuvrability/flexibility of the instrument stupendous and unique - I'm thinking of lots of Berlioz (e.g. the 'funeral oration' from the symphonie funebre et triomphale', lots of Berg (e.g. 3 orchestral pieces)etc. and I like the high trombone 'trills'(in 4ths etc.) in my own chaconne for brass quintet (I would have put a recording of it up on my show-page but the one recording got 'disappeared' from the one interested music publisher) This owes as much to Stan Kenton/Bill Russo/Frank Rosolino as to classical trombone writing. (Do you know that 'Artistry in [Rhythm] etc.' series - or, most stupendous of all: the great Bob Graettinger's 'City of Glass': a spectacular expressionist post-Ellington cataclysm: a sort of big bang which reconstituted the elements of jazz and 'avant garde' contemporary 'classical' music?


First line should read:

"If Scott hadn't mentioned it......was going to commend....."

  Re: trombone concerto  IanTipping at 15:14 on 26 April 2009

I knew we could rely on Scott to back us up! Come on though Scott, none of this 'waiting for the opportunity' nonsense - I want to hear your piece! Only kidding, but I do suspect it'll be great when it comes along.

By the way, I didn't mean I hate all trombone glissandos - just the 'so common it's become a cheesy cliche' effect of a loud chord trombone section chord, usually in the upper middle register, with a rapid fall off. No, I should say that the fluidity of the trombone's note placement is one of its greatest characteristics. I agree with Scott about the mutes too. I'm a particular fan of an upper register cup muted trombone in octaves with a clarinet in its chalameau register - too beautiful for words! Pretty sure I'll be using that texture in my Concerto at some point. Now, where's that manuscript paper...

(incidentally, the organ can certainly play louder than a full orchestra - but lyrical, vocal quality? Not so sure about that bit...)

  Re: trombone concerto  Team Gaughan at 16:52 on 27 April 2009

Excellent glad I have started a trombone concerto ideas link!!! Do them, all trombonists would love them. I agree to about glissandi, I dont hate them all, just the over done ones, sometimes they can be very effective such as say a major or minopr second with strings doing the same, and the expressive quality of the trombone is astonishing, the Berg yes and those early concertos as well as Monteverdis use of the sackbut.

Ok so the trombone deserves concertos- lets get composing!!!! And yes get your concerto finished!!!!


Perhaps the next instrumental workshop could be for trombone here on CT?

  Re: trombone concerto  scott_good at 19:45 on 27 April 2009

"Come on though Scott, none of this 'waiting for the opportunity' nonsense - I want to hear your piece! "

Yes sir! I have my orders - over and out! (hee hee)

Btw, 5 weeks and my trumpet concerto will be premiered! (just a warm up to the tbone concerto). I'm getting very excited. (finished it 2 years ago, so, a long wait.)

  Re: trombone concerto  IanTipping at 11:40 on 28 April 2009

Someone's been listening to us, boys and girls....!

  Re: trombone concerto  Team Gaughan at 15:39 on 28 April 2009

Amazing!!!! I think we should all take part- its our duty!!!!!

  Re: trombone concerto  davemacdo at 22:38 on 08 February 2011

If you don't know it, you should check out Christopher Rouse's Trombone Concerto. I think both Christian Lindberg and Joseph Alessi have recorded it. Don't know of any other recordings.

  Re: trombone concerto  Misuc at 20:05 on 13 February 2011

Thanks for a real contribution to these pages. It's a rare thing. I'll look it up if I can.

  Re: trombone concerto  StephenJMacko at 00:35 on 06 August 2011

Let not this idea finsh on a bad note.

A trombone can play the frets of a guitar. E maj. Why, that is seventh position, on the trombone's second lowest partial. New chords are known on guitars every day. These chords are possible to be played on the trombone, while backed up with chords from the orchestra as well. Chordal writing is found in inversion, on the trombone too.

The overtone series is found with every position of the trombone. Quick scales are played from first position to seventh position, in the upper partials of the trombone.

Since the trombone is in the range of a tenor, notes can be played and sung at the same time, this is sometimes only heard in a cadenza, while the orchestra listens.

Since the trombone, in history, is known as a church instrument, and is used in Symphonic Compositions with the organ, another church instrument, Saint-Sean "Symphony No. 2" for example, an organ could be added to a Concerto for Trombone in many ways, to add textural sound and coulor.

Other ideas for the trombone, have been noted in histroy about the overtone series, tounging techinque Ex. "flutter-toung" for quick scales, and a belief in God, the One who made every techinique possible.

God bless.


A correction: Camille Saint-SaŽns - Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 "Organ"

  Re: trombone concerto  rbaker1 at 18:09 on 14 August 2011

Pascal Dusapin wrote a trombone concerto called Watt (if you like Dusapin, it's a cool piece)(cool CD cover as well!).

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