CONTENTS IN THIS CHAPTER
Last updated 27/2 – 2021
1 – THE TRUMPET
2 – SPECIAL TRUMPETS
3 – THE QUESTIONABLY ETUDES FOR TRUMPET BY JOHANNES BRAHMS
4 – THE FRENCH HORN IN GERMANY AND BOHEMIA
5 – THE HORN IN FRANCE
6 –THE HORN IN AUSTRIA
7 – THE HORN IN UK
8 – THE HORN IN USA
9 – THE WAGNER TUBA
10 – THE POST HORN
11 – THE TROMBONE IN GERMANY
12 – THE TROMBONE AS A SOLO INSTRUMENT
13 – THE TROMBONE IN FRANCE
14 – THE TROMBONE IN UK
15 – THE VALVE TROMBONE
16 – THE CIMBASSO
17 – THE CONTRA BASS TROMBONE
18 – THE LOW BRASS IN THE VIENNA OPERA ORCHESTRA
ROMANTICISM II (1830 – 1900)
1. THE TRUMPET
A BUGLER – pencil drawing from 1860-1865 by Alfred R. Waud, USA
Throughout the 19th century the bugle horn was still used as a signal instrument in the military.It was now regarded more of a trumpet thaN of a horn.
In France the success of the cornet worked almost as a drag on the process of introducing the valve trumpet. It went quicker in Germany, already in 1829 the Prussian cavalry’s Trompeten-Musik used valve trumpets with different pitches. On a journey through Germany in 1843 Berlioz thinks the German trumpeter much better than the French, and he is overwhelmed by the “exultant sound” of the trumpets.
EARLY GERMAN TRUMPET IN G 1830
One composer who actually never composed for the valve brass instruments but anyway knew about them was Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1849). Commenting in 1834 on his overture Die Schöne Melusine, Op. 32 (1833), which featured the horns and trumpets outlining the minor triad (written, Eb instead of E). That mean the work was composed to require hand stopping by the horns but and the trumpets, but Mendelssohn stated that:
“The E flat for the horns and trumpets I put down trusting to luck, and hoping that Providence would show the players some way to do it; if they have new contrivances for it (valves), so much the better”. Mendelssohn seemed to be open to the idea of valved instruments playing these parts.
It was a confusing time for trumpeters who received several trumpet types to choose from. A good example is the French Francois Georges Aguste Dauverné (1799-1874), trumpet virtuoso, teacher and composer. He was 1.trumpet in the Kings Band, The Opera. The Academy Orchestra and in projects for Hector Berlioz. His instruments over time was: The Natural Trumpet, The Keyed Trumpet, The Valve Trumpet, The Cornet and The Slide trumpet (Fig. 2 )
According to Georges Kastner (composer with a special interest in the instrumental inventions of Adolphe Sax) The Academy Orchestra in 1851 was composed like following (family of brass instruments) : 4 french horns, 2 trumpets, 1 keyed trumpet, 2 valve cornets, 3 trombones et 1 ophicleide.
Left: FRANCOIS GEORGES AGUSTE DAUVERNÉ (1799-1874)
Right: BELL FROM A SLIDE TRUMPET, by the french company ANTOINE COURTOIS. In 1840 Meyerbeer brought to Dauverné along from Berlin this beautiful slide trumpet, as a gift for Dauverné who played it until 1846 when he handed it to his student Jules Henri Louis Cerclier (1823-1897), the winner that year of the Paris Academy of music competition.
The difficult crook-system disappeared at last when introducing the Valve Trumpet in F ( an octave higher than the F-Horn) as a sort of ”Standard”. Even being free of the natural harmonic tones, still all trumpet parts were written in C, meaning that, if the part was not written for trumpet in F, it was still necessary to transpose the part.
AUSTRIAN F-TRUMPET WITH VIENNA-VALVES AND CROOKS, 1840
TRUMPET in G WITH BERLINER-PUMPEN
– MARKNEUNKIRCHEN, GERMANY ca. 1860 (see ROMANTICISM II, 26 – GERMAN INSTRUMENT MAKERS)
GERMAN VALVE TRUMPET in F.
The musical importance of the valves and the new chromatic possibilities showed in the more lyrical and melodious music for trumpet. The parts became even higher and higher, and reached their maximum in the opera Parsifal by Wagner (1882), where a lyrical solo reaches the high C, and even: to be played sehr zart. (very soft and tender). That is possibly why (and maybe under influence of the cornet) the Bb-trumpet was used more and more. It was more secure in the high notes and the sound was more clear and brilliant. On the other hand, the Bb-trumpet’s sound was a bit thin, so in groups of 3 or 4 trumpets, the F-trumpet stayed on the lower parts.
AMERICAN F-TRUMPET, BOSTON, ca.1900 WITH CROOK to Eb
The F-trumpet did not disappear overnight. Gustav Mahler found the sound of the Bb trumpet so thin that he asked for doubling of the 2nd trumpet part when conducting Beethoven’s symphonies. When the second trumpeter I the Vienna opera Frantz Thomas was hired in 1872 he was given an F-trumpet. When he in 1879 requested a Bb-trumpet, conductor Hans Richter replied: “As a second trumpeter Mr. Thomas shouldn’t ever play anything but an F-trumpet!”
In his book, Principles of Orchestration (written 1896–1908) , Rimsky- Korsakov recommends the use of an F trumpet to play the 3rd trumpet part in his opera “Mlada” (1889) to give a rich sound. However, he advises against the use of the lower notes as the voice will probably often be played on a Bb trumpet? The F-trumpet lasted longer in wind orchestras.
THE DANISH ROYAL LIFEGUARDS BAND AT A CONCERT 1939
On the close up it is clearly that the 3.trumpet player is playing on an F-trompet:
TRUMPET IN Bb/A by “KÖHLER & SON”, ca. 1888-1896
– with 3 piston valves and for tuning one rotary valve
PISTON VALVE TRUMPET IN F
– with an extra rotary valve for tuning down to E
Mahillon, Brussels, c 1885. Musical Instruments Museum
Fig.10 GERMAN Bb-TRUMPET
After the creation of valves 2 main styles of trumpet were developed: The French style with piston-valves and the German-Austrian style with rotary-valves.
THE PISTON VALVE TRUMPET
The Piston-valve trumpet has a clearer and more brilliant tone made with the concept of a consistent sound across all dynamic levels and registers. If needed it can boasts a powerfull sound that stands out above all other instruments. This kind of trumpet were used in France, England and USA.
THE ENGLISH/AMERICAN PISTON VALVE TRUMPET
– has a long leadpipe from the mouthpiece until it enters the third valve.
THE ROTARY VALVE TRUMPET
The rotary-valve trumpets used in Germany and Austria is not intended to have a consistent tone and is actually supposed to have a dramatically change in timbre at different dynamic levels – soft dynamic dark sound, loud dynamic bright sound. Generally the rotary-valve trumpet is less dominating and has a more mellow sound than the rotaty-trumpet and it blends well with other instruments.
THE GERMAN ROTARY VALVE TRUMPET
– has a short distance from the mouthpiece until the leadpipe enters the1st valve.
Another solution was the idea of using the cornet for orchestral trumpet-parts, and it seem to last quite long.
It seems that the small trumpets were slower to arrive in France and England than in Germany. The very wide French and English acceptance of the cornets à pistons covered most of the musical territory that trumpets did in east Europe.
French Bb trumpet was partly invented, as a substitute for the use of cornets for performing the trumpet parts in symphonic orchestras.
A special defense of the orchestral trumpet is expressed by Ebenezer Prout, professor of music in the University of Dublin, in “The Orchestra, Volume 1. Technique of the Instruments”, published in London in 1897: “The tone of the trumpet is the most powerful and brilliant of any in the orchestra…Its quality is noble and it is greatly to be regretted that in modern orchestras it is so frequently replaced by the much more vulgar cornet. The tone of the cornet is absolutely devoid of the nobility of the trumpet, and, unless in the hands of a very good musician, readily becomes vulgar. It is, however, so much easier to play than the trumpet, that parts written for the latter instrument are very often performed on the cornet. In some cases, especially in provincial orchestras, this may be a necessity, as it is not always possible to find trumpet players; but it is none the less a degradation of the music. We cordially endorse the dictum of M. (Francois- Auguste) Gevaert, who says—‘No conductor worthy of the name of artist ought any longer to allow the cornet to be heard in place of the trumpet in a classical work’”.
When the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was founding 1891 the brass section included two cornet players and two trumpet players, although by the end of the decade they were all 4 described as trumpet players.
The trumpet was first of all an orchestral instrument but once in a while it was used as a solo instrument. The brothers Friedrich and Ernest Sachse played as soloists in the 1850ties on the low F- and Eb- trumpet. The trumpet got more popular as a solo instrument when the music from the Baroque was rediscovered, especially the music from Handel and Bach. The art of Clarin playing had long been forgotten, so to play the high baroque parts it was necessary to build trumpets with a high pitch. Up till 1900 trumpets in C, D, G, and A were built and those with the highest pitch were called Bach-trumpets even if their length only was 1/3 of the original baroque trumpets.
TWO PIONEERS OF BAROQUE TRUMPET PLAYING ON SMALL TRUMPETS
Left: Julius Kosleck (1837-1903), Berlin. Kosleck used a long straight trumpet in A (like a piccolo trumpet but streched out). He called his trumpet for “Bach trumpet”, although it was much shorter than the trumpets of the Baroque era. Due to the length of his instrument he had to stand up when he performed (see more about Kosleck in 12 – BRASS CHAMBER MUSIC ENSEMBLES, ROMANTICISM III).
Right John Solomon (1856-1953), London. He was known for his baroque playing and he was one of the founding members of The London Symphony Orchestra (1904).
Fig.14 OSKAR BÖHME (1870 – 1938)
– was born near Dresden, Germany. After studying trumpet and composition in the Leipzig Conservatory of Music until 1885, he probably concertized, playing in smaller orchestras around Germany. From 1894-1896 he played in the Budapest Opers Orchestra and then in 1897 he moved to Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, and was playing the cornet employed as “Kaiserlich. Russischer. Hofoperkünstler”. 1921-1930 he turned to teaching at a music school, and then returned to Leningrad (St. Petersburg). In 1934 he was exiled, essentially just because of his Germanic origins, to Orenburg, south east of Moscow. However, in 1936 a committee was established to oversee the arts in Soviet Russia. According to its anti-foreign policies, he seems to have been shot there in October 1938.
Böhme composed 46 known works, of which his Brass Sextet and Trumpet Concerto (Op. 18) are the best known.
2. SPECIAL TRUMPETS
Already in the early days of the valve a low trumpet was built: the “Chromatische Trompetenbasse” (bass trumpet) , to be used in the wind orchestras.
For his opera cycle ”the Ring of the Nibelung” Wagner arranged that a bass trumpet should be made to (beside various solos) form a bridge between the trumpets and the trombones. It was pitched in C and could be tuned to Bb. Wagners bass trumpet was build by Carl Wilhelm Moritz, Berlin. After Wagner the bass trumpet was also used by Richard Strauss and Stravinsky.
A SET OF AIDA TRUMPETS
For his opera “Aida” (1871) Verdi had made six straight trumpets, three in Ab and three in Bb. Each one of them had one ”whole note valve” which, when playing , was covered by the hand, so the instruments looked like ”antique” natural trumpets. Here is Aida-trumpet player in action from the opera in Verona:
For the opera “Tristan and Isolde” (1865) Wagner had made a wooden trumpet in C, with the same valve (in brass) as the Aida Trumpet.
CHINESE ZHAIJO TRUMPET
from the mid 19th century
3. THE QUESTIONABLY ETUDES FOR TRUMPET
BY JOHANNES BRAHMS
As a young man Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) wrote 12 etudes for trumpet ca. 1848-1850. The story goes that Brahms was playing the piano at a pub in Hamburg with a trumpet player sitting in, and that Brahms wrote him some studies to improve his technique. The authenticity of these etudes is obviously in question because Brahms never wrote anything for the trumpet in his orchestral music that was as melodic or extended as these etudes demonstrate.
But Brahms knew for sure about chromatic brass instruments. His father, Johann Jakob Brahms (1806-72), played the keyed bugle in the second Jäger-Battaillon band of the Hamborg Bürgerwehr 1837-1867. Later he switched to a new Vienna valve Flügelhorn. His instrument survives in the Kammerhof Museum of Gmunden, Austria.
JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897) and his father AND JOHANN JAKOB BRAHMS (1806-1972)
4. THE FRENCH HORN IN GERMANY AND BOHEMIA
The trumpet players were rather cautious about the valve system, but that was nothing compared to the horn players. It took a very long time for them to accept the ”Mechanical Horn”. In their opinion the valves “cut” through the tones and it destroyed the soul of the French Horn. That is why Johannes Brahms preferred the natural horn. The (natural) horn in F was still the one that was used most, but the players still changed tubes. The problem was though, and there is evidence: that it took too long for the horn players to change tubes, so they were late in playing their part, that it was noisy, so the other musicians were distracted, and the worst of all was when a wrong tube was used. When at last the valves were being used, they were used as a mechanical way to change tubes. That is why the valves on a French horn are operated with the left hand, while the right hand (for most people their favorite hand) is placed in the bell, to play the stop notes. From ca. 1840 players began to use the valves the same way as done on cornet.
The stop horn method went really far, see for example the concert for Horn op.45 from 1815 by Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1825). The horn got two valves, later three, but then its status as a solo instrument disappeared. Romanticism is not rich in solo concerts for Horn.
EARLY GERMAN 2 VALVE HORN
MADE BY JOHANN GOTTFRIED KERSTEN, DRESDEN, GERMANY Ca. 1835
GERMAN HORN (WALDHORN) WITH ROTARY VALVES from 1880 made by MÜLLER, BOHEMIA
During Romanticism the development of the horn went in different national directions. The German horn had a wide bore and a dark sound.
In 1866 horn player Friedrich Gumpert played in a chamber music concert at the Gewandhaus , Leipzig in Germany, of Johannes Brahms horn trio op.4o together with Clara Schumann (piano) and Ferdinand David (violin). Brahms was utterly against the valve horn, as mentioned before, and you can imagine what he was thinking when Clara Schumann send a letter to him about a rehearsal of his Horn Trio op. 40 for violin, French horn and piano (1868): ”We have played your Trio and the horn player was fantastic. I do not think that he ever kicked, which was splendid, but he played on a valve horn, and would not even think about playing on a natural horn”.
EDUARD CONSTANTIN LEWY WITH HIS FAMILY
– with his son Richard playing the horn and his daughter Melanie playing the harp.
Some of the most important pioneers of the valve horn were the brothers Edward Constantin Lewy (1796-1846) and Joseph Rudolph Lewy (1804-1881). Eduard Constantin played the famous fourth horn solo in Beethoven’s 9th symphony at the premiere in 1824 – could be on a valve horn?
JOSEPH RUDOLPH LEWY 1836
– performed on a valve horn already in 1826. He was a horn player when Franz Schubert’s song “Auf dem Strom” (On the river) for singer, piano and horn had its premiere in 1828. The horn part is possibly one of the first pieces written for valve horn. Joseph Rudolph was employed at the opera in Dresden, and it is rather possible that he affected Wagner in writing the horn part to his opera “Lohengrin”(1848). These horn parts were played – strangely enough – with a mixture of valve- and stop technique.
Quote by Robert Schumann: “The horn is the soul of the orchestra”
It was not only negativism, there were certainly positive thoughts about the new valve horn. Robert Schumann (1810-1856) was very inspired by the Lewy brothers. He shows his clear excitement in his “Adagio and Allegro Op.70” for (valve)horn and piano written in 1848, and only two weeks later in his virtuoso “Concert Piece for four horns and orchestra in F Major Op.86”(1849) for 4 valve horns. He wrote the piece in only 2 days and has written in the score: “Difficulkt and too long”.
HORN VIRTUOSO H. POHLE
– 1st horn player at the premiere of Robert Schumann’s Concert Piece for four horns and orchestra. Drawing from 1845 by C. Reimer.
At the first performance af Schumanns Concertpiece 1850 the 4 solo parts was played by:
Eduard Pohle (1817–1875) Principal horn in Leipzig Gewandhausorchesters 1843-1853
Joseph Jehnichen (? – 1852) 2. horn i Gewandhausorchesters
Eduard Julius Leichsenring (1810–1878) 3. hornt in Gewandhausorchesters
Carl Heinrich Conrad Wilke (1811-1856) 4. horn in Gewandhausorchesters 1842-1856.
Fig.24 POSTER FROM THE FIRST PERFORMANCE OF THE CONCERT PIECE, MONDAY 25 FEBRUARY 1850
However, it was performed with piano one year earlier for a small company in a private home.
FRIEDRICH GUMPERT (1841-1906)
– was perhaps the most important German valved horn performer and teacher of the late nineteenth century. From 1864 – 1899 he was First horn in the Gewandhausorchestra, and Professor of Horn at the Leipzig Conservatory 1882-1906. His publications (all of which appear, erroneously, under the name “Gumbert” include twelve volumes of orchestral excerpt books, horn quartets, a horn method, and many arrangements for horn and piano.
THE SIEGFRIED HORN CALL
– comes from the opera Siegfried, the 3.opera from Wagners ”Der Ring des Nibelungen”. It takes place in Act 2, Scene 2 as the main character, Siegfried, acts in playing a silver hunting-horn to a bird. The signal is performed behind the stage and is one of the most exposed ones written for the horn in the late 19th century:
SIGFRED WITH HIS HORN
At the first performance in 1896 Siegfried was sung by the polish singer Jean de Reszke equipped with a medieval-looking horn Recalling THE OLIPHANT HORN (see ANCIENT AND MEDIVAL Fig.27, 28 og 29)
CARICATURE OF WAGNER – WITH A VERY PECULIAR HORN.
French newspaper drawing from April 1 1882
Wagner’s ideological and musical use of “horns” (French horns, Wagner tubas and stierhörner) has inspired the drawing artist to show the composer with a strange homemade helicon-like instrument with keys?
5. THE HORN IN FRANCE
In France the natural horn was rather popular and the valve horn was more like a natural horn with set up valves. On most models it was possible to remove the valve part, and to switch it with a tube, so it was like a combination of the natural horn and the valve horn. That’s why the French right up to the mid 1800 century experimented with “Omnotonic horns”.
OMNOTONIC HORN build by PIERRE LOUIS GAUTROT (1812-1882) 1837
R: Switching-screw (see also ROMANTICISM I, 2. VALVE SYSTEMS AND THEIR INVENTORS).
EXTREME OMNOTONIC HORN BY JEAN PABTISTE DUPONT FROM THE 1800S
R. The Mouthpiece is placed in different tuning-leadpipes
FRENCH HORN (COR) WITH PISTON VALVES
The ”French” horn had piston valves and often a 3rd valve to change the pitch from F to G, it had a small bore and a light sound and the dynamic power was not big. The instrument was said to be difficult to play, because the tone very easily kicked. The natural horn kept its popularity in France in a long time. The orchestral version of Maurice Ravel’s “Pavane for a dead princess” from 1908 shows a horn part, marked as ”Cor simple en sol”, which means that the pitch shall be changed to G and that the part shall be played with hand technique alone. The French method to play the horn, and the choice of instruments was overtaken by the English.
SINGLE HORN IN F “système Sax” F. Van Cauwelaert (père) à Bruxelles, ca 1885
This horn was made between ca 1884 and 1900 with 2 Perine´ valves and crooks, this set consisting of D, Eb, E and F crooks would have been the typical pick of a late-19th century Belgian bandsman.
FRANCOIS BRÉMOND (1844-1925)
Horn professor on the Paris Conservatory 1891 – 1923. He preferred to play the natural horn, but in later years took up the valve horn as well.
THE HORN CLASS ON THE PARIS CONSERVATORY 1895
All the students stand with natural horns and in the middle is Professor Francois Brémond
6. THE HORN IN AUSTRIA
VIENNA HORN – is directly opposite to the french horn
The deep f-pitch, the very deep mouthpiece and the open Venna valves gives it an even darker and fuller sound than the German horn. Up till today the Vienna Horn gives the Vienna Philharmonic its special sound.
JOSEF SCHANTL (1842-1902) to the right, and HIS PUPILS, FOTO ca. 1895
Josef Schantl, the great horn player and teacher, principal horn player in several first performanced symphonies by Anton Bruckner and Johannes Brahms, principal horn player in the at performances of parts of Wagner’s Siegfried and Götterdämmerung in Vienna under direction of Richard Wagner 1875. He died in 1902, just retired. He wrote a most comprehensive Horn Method (4 volumes)
No.3 from the right is his successor Karl Stiegler as principal horn player in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. When Karl Stiegler had performed the Siegfried Signal 50 times, he got this picture from his colleagues – signed: Christian Nowak, Franz Moissl, Rudolf Reiss, Hermann Moissl, 2nd row: Karl Romagnoli, Anton Stark, Christian Nowak jun., 3rd row: Franz Koller, Hans Koller, Leopold Kainz, Karl Wesetzky, Josef Sandner.
VIENNA HORN PLAYER, drawing by König.
7. THE HORN IN UK
ABERDEEN TRIO, PHOTO FROM c.. 1880
In UK players took over the French type of horn and the French way of playing. This photo shows such a horn with 2 Stötzel(piston) valves. The horn is probably made c 1846 by the instrument maker Thomas Key from London.
THE FRENCH HORN PUB, TRADEMARK.
Hornplayer with piston valve horn.
8. THE HORN IN USA
HENRY SCHMITZ 1823 – 1914
In the 18th century many horn players in USA came from Germany. One of them were Henry Schmitz who came from Germany to USA 1846. He was solo horn of the N.Y. Philharmonic from 1848 to 1869 and of the Theodore Thomas Orchestra from 1866 to 1877, and several other well-known orchestras of the time. He was no doubt the first true virtuoso horn player in the United Sates and a frequent soloist. On January 12, 1856 he gave the American premiere of Weber’s Concertino with the Philharmonic. He was also the principal in the first U.S. performance of Robert Schumann’s Konzertstück for four horns given in New York on December 4, 1852, only three years after its composition
FOUR HORN PLAYERS AND A TRUMPET PLAYER FROM BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA c.1914
Three of the horn players came from Europe and only one of them was from America.
MAX GUSTAV HESS (1878-1975) came from Germany and had studied with Friederich Gumbert (fig. ). Hess had been first horn in orchestras in Rostock and Frankfurt-am-Main and with the Gürzenick Orchestra in cologne he performed the premiere performance of Gustav Mahlers fifth symphony 18 october 1904. He was appointed principal horn in Boston Symphony Orchestra October 3. 1904. Max Hess preferred to play on a horn tuned in G!
FRANTZ HEIN came from Bohemia. At fourteen he became a student at the conservatory in Prague, and after work in Germany he became third horn in Boston Symphony Orchestra
Gustav Heim – principal trumpet in Boston Symphony Orchestra.
WILLIAM GEPHARDT was born 1884 in USA – as the only one of these 4 hornist on the photo. He joined The Boston Symphony Orchestra as second horn 1907.
HEINRICH LORBER was born in Germany 1865. He was also a student of Friederich Gumbert and after playing in the zoological garden in St. Petersburg he played in the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig and in 1891 the conductor Arthur Nicisch invited him to Boston as second horn. He later moved to fourth horn.
9. THE WAGNER TUBA
In his orchestral work Wagner called the horn group for ”the sonorous centre”. He visited Adolf Sax’s shop in Paris in October 1853, whilst he thought about using saxhorn (Tenor horn, Baritone and Euphonium), or something like it, as part of the orchestral strength in ”The Ring of the Nibelung”. It was the director Hans Richter though who gave him the idea to have built low valve instruments with a lead pipe connected to a “horn” mouthpiece. That gave the horn players opportunity to switch easily between these instruments and their “normal” horn. The new instruments were called Wagner tubas, and the Wagner tuba-section was formed with two tubas in Bb and two in F, build by Carl Wilhelm Moritz, Berlin. You cannot put your right hand into the bell of a Wagner tuba and they sound a bit like a mixture of a horn and a euphonium. It took some time to have built these Wagner tubas and at the premiere of Rhine Gold (1869) the parts were played by ”military instruments”: Tenor horn, Baritone and Euphonium. Later the Wagner tubas were used by Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) in his Symphony no.7 (1884), by Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) in Le sacre du printemps (the Rite of Spring) (1913) and by Richard Strauss (1864-1949)in the opera Elektra (1909).
WAGNUTUBAS WITH VALVES FOR THE LEFT HAND OR THE RIGHT HAND
Wagnertubas is normally made for valves for the left hand (with the bell pointing right (see THE 20’ CENTURY II THE NATIONAL SOUND ” GERMANY AND AUSTRIA”) but some times they are with valves for the right hand (with the bell pointing left).
HANS RICHTER (1843 – 1916)
– was a conductor born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He became associated with Richard Wagner the 1860s, and in 1876 he was chosen to conduct the first complete performance of Wagner’s der Ring des Nibelungen at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus.). He had earlier played the horn and had a decisive influence on the construction of the Wagner Tuba. It was him who got the idea to construct the wagner tuba so it could be played by hornists.
Om the Wagnertuba horn players often use the same size (or nearly the same size) mouthpiece as the normal horn. Intonation is a challenge since the right hand is not placed in the bell. The sound of a Wagner tuba goes downwards, and with an almost identical mouthpiece to a normal horn mouthpiece it is rather difficult to ”push the sound upwards”, and make it bigger and darker. In France and England, the horn sound was very light, and to play the Wagner tuba was something of a challenge. That is why substitutes for the Wagner tuba have been developed.
WAGNER TUBA-SUBSTITUTES FOR THE OPERA IN PARIS, SAX TROMBA WITH A REMOVABLE BELL
At the Opera in Paris this construction has been used. The bell could turn downwards, and thus give a dark and soft ”mystical” sound.
WAGNER TUBA-SUBSTITUTES FROM COVENT GARDEN, LONDON
. In 1892 the old Royal Italian Opera at Covent Garden became the Royal Opera House (also called “Covent Garden”). It was the year of the first performance at Covent Garden of Wagner’s Ring cycle (conducted by Mahler) and the change of name was no doubt influenced by this as, until then, all performances had been sung in Italian. For this Ring a bass trumpet and Wagner tubas would have been required, and it seems likely that these very instruments have been discovered in the attic at Covent Garden. They were made by the Belgian company Mahillon. Three of the four Wagner tubas were found, one tenor in Bb (the other Bb is missing) and two basses in F. These Wagner tubas are of four-in-line piston valve design, and interestingly, built to be played by trombone players (not horn players which is conventional) as they have lead pipes suitable for the small-bore trombone mouthpieces in use at that time. Along with their maker’s name, there is an inscription “Gold Medal Paris 1878”.
10. THE POST HORN
DANISH POST SIGNALS, PUBLISHED FOR SALE 1843
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the sounds of post horns were a regular and meaningful part of people’s everyday lives. The most familiar and often-heard calls and tunes were those associated with the postal system and the delivery of the mail. But in 1853, King Maximilian II of Bavaria instructed his mail-carriers not only to sound the posthorn while transporting the mail, but also to perform folk music, national airs, and popular songs throughout the countryside “for the edification and cultural education of the common people.” And then the German postilions begun to play on valve post horns.
GERMAN POST HORN WITH 2 VALVES
AUSTRIAN POST HORN WITH 3 VALVES
Metropolitan Museum New York
A BAVARIAN POSTILLON PLAYING ON A VALVE POSTHORN – horns that one has to use both hands to operate.
The German postillions earned tip money by entertaining people with their valved post horns, so the temptation was great to get carried away with pieces like variations on the Carnival of Venice. When they began to use the valve horn as service instrument, this lead to many accidents, especially in Prussia where entire post coaches full of passengers landed in the ditch because the driver was using both hands to play his valved post horn. The King of Bavaria wanted so much to avoid this, that he appointed a special commission which came up with a compromise solution – a one-handed post horn with one finger hole that allowed certain diatonic melodies to be played, including the national anthem. Therefore this was issued to the Postillions as a the official service instrument. Then the other hand was free to hold on to the horse rope.
BAVARIAN ONE-HANDED POST HORN WITH ONE HOLE
SAXON, BAVARIAN AND AUSTRIAN POSTILLIONS
– and the first railway at Franzensbad, Czechoslovakia 1855. Oil painting by Gustav Müller (1913) after drawing by Honoré Daumier
SOUNDS OF THE POST HORN, A POSTILLION IS PRACTICING. PAINTING BY FRIEDERICH ORTLIEB (1890)
BELONGING TO THE BUNDES POST MUSEUM FRANKFURT AM MAIN.
THE CHESTER TO LONDON MAIL COACH
– with passengers and the postilion on the tailgate. Painting from early 19th century. In England, the postillions continued to play on the straight post horn. The CLOSE UP, is showing the postillon with his English straight post horn:
ENGLISH POST HORN-SIGNAL
In 1844, the German cornet player Hermann Koenig (see ROMANTICISM,8 – THE CORNET á PISTON) wrote POST HORN GALLOP based on this signal as a solo for post horn with orchestral accompaniment. In the 20th century it became a popular piece for brass bands.
ENGLISH POST HORN FROM THE COMPANY BOOSEY & HAWKES c. 1967
The importance and prevalence of the “post” horns and the music they produced was such that many composers of art music were inspired to incorporate their signals and songs, or adaptations of them, into their compositions. Mozart used the instrument in his Serenade no. 9 in D major (Posthorn Serenade), and in his German Dance no. 3 (Sleigh Ride), and Gustav Mahler used it in his Symphony no. 3.
POST SIGNAL from ”Winterreise”.
The song by Schubert: ”Die Post” (The mail coach), from the song cycle ”Winterreise” (Winter Journey) is based on a post signal.
DANISH MAIL COACH 1892
10. THE TROMBONE IN GERMANY
In the first part of the 1800rds the trombone established itself more and more as a solid part of the symphony orchestra, and from about 1840 they are almost obligatory. Franz Schubert (1797-1828) writes rather advanced parts for trombone in his masses and remarkably enough for that time, also in his symphony no.8 ”Unfinished” (1822) and no.9 (1830) , his last two symphonies. Mendelssohn thought the trombone really sacral and used it only in one of his symphonies, Symphony no.5 (1830) ”the Reformation”, where the last part is based on the chorale by Luther, “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” (A mighty Fortress is our God).
GERMAN ALTO-, TENOR- and BASS TROMBONE
In the beginning of the 1800rds the classical German trombone group existed of an alto trombone in Eb, a tenor trombone in Bb and a bass trombone in F.
GERMAN TENOR TROMBONE WITH A ROTARY F-VALVE.
In 1839 the instrument maker C.F. Sattler, Leipzig, put a rotary valve on the tenor trombone, which made it possible to change the pitch to F: An F-valve. This valve made it almost possible for the bass trombone to get as low as BB (in a chromatic way), (C is difficult and B almost impossible), and this trombone was in the beginning called “tenor-bass trombone”. It had also the bore and bell-size og the f-bass trombone, and little by little it overtook the F-bass trombone and with a even bigger bore it was called: ”Bass trombone”. The standard trombone group in the orchestras went then from ”alto trombone in Eb, tenor trombone in Bb and bass trombone in F”, to ”two tenor trombones and one bass trombone – all in Bb”.
However, the idea of a trombone section consisting of alto, tenor and bass trumpet did not immediately disappear. In 1859 Johannes Brahms wrote in a letter to Theodor Avé Lallemant about instrumentation: “On no account 3 tenor trombones! One genuine little alto trombone and, if possible, also a genuine bass trombone”.
THE TROMBONE SECTION IN A PRUSSIAN MILITARY BAND 1910.
The F-bass trombone did not disappear overnight. On the left is a F-bass trombone with a handle on the slide.
ANOTHER TROMBONE SECTION FROM A GERMAN MILITARY BAND WITH ONE F-BASS TROMBONE AND 3 TENOR TROMBONES
Photo from 1911.
When the F-valve was introduced on the trombone, it made a change in the trumpet/trombone group in the orchestra. In the brass group of natural trumpets and alto- tenor- and bass trombone was the alto – and even the tenor – often higher than the 2nd trumpet, because of the big distances between the low natural tones of the trumpet. With the natural trumpets it was now possible to make a pyramid of sound with the trumpets at the top and the trombones at the bottom. This meant that a second tenor trombone overtook the alto (also because they needed more volume). But the old names – alto, tenor and bass – were kept, rather as a definition of sound, not because a real alto was wished for. The 1st trombone part in Bruckner’s 4th symphony, “the Romantic”, says alto, but the part is clearly written for a tenor trombone. The 1st trombone parts in works by the ”classical” composers like Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms sound idiomatically on alto, while the works by Bruckner, Wagner, Tchaikovsky , Dvorak and Rimsky Korsakov are written with a tenor trombone in mind.
11. THE TROMBONE AS A SOLO INSTRUMENT
The trombone was the instrument that had the least alterations with the invention of the valve. The bore and the bell were bigger but the instrument was still ”the old instrument”. The trombone had though been ”away from the spotlights” for a long time and was now suddenly seen as a completely new instrument. Strangely enough it became the two trombone players FRIEDRICH AUGUST BELCKE (1795-1874) and CARL TRAUGOTT QUEISSER (1800-1846) who was the leading wind-soloists of that period. They both received their first musical training as a Stadtpfeifer, or town musician, and ended up playing as soloists at big music festivals all over Europe, and as the only wind players often with the leading stars of that time, such as: Clara Schumann, Franz Liszt and Niccolo Paganini. Between 1820 and 1845, hardley any music festival took place in Germany that did not feture either Quesser or Belcke as trombone solist.
FRIEDRICH AUGUST BELCKE (1795-1874)
In 1815, Friedrich Belcke surprised a Leipzig audience by playing a potpourri for trombone and orchestra by Leipzig composer Carl Heinrich Meyer. It was the beginning of his 30-year career as a trombone soloist. In 1819 a critic admired a concert given by Belcke in Leipzig for its “clarity and precision, distinctness and pleasing sound, plus something truly noble in the imposing trombonistic figurations, as well as astonishing skill in that which is not idiomatic to the instrument – for example, rapid passages, cantabile, trills, etc.” Belcke eventually got an appointment as royal chamber musician in Berlin at the court orchestra of Friedrich III and toured Europe extensively. In the picture is seen a handle on Belcke’s trombone, ie. he stands with a bass trombone in F. How much he used it for solo playing we do not know for sure – but in the long run he probably used the “new” trombone in Bb with F – valve.
Belcke was the most travelling of the two, he even got success in Paris, the critic François-Joseph Fétis reports, “Although the place of the trombone in the orchestra is already defined, and execution for this purpose beyond a certain degree useless, the bass trombone has been cultivated in Germany as a solo instrument with singular success, and the fame of Belcke of Berlin, for skillful management, has already reached England.”
CARL TRAUGOTT QUEISSER (1800-1846)
Karl Traugott Queisser learned as a young man to play many orchestral instruments but chose to concentrate on the violin and the trombone, but later decided that he could make more money as a violist. Note that the wreath under the portrait features both a viola and a trombone. Queisser was very much involved in the Leipzig flourishing music life. In the city there were 2 military wind bands, a town wind band, an opera / theater orchestra, a “B – orchestra” called “Euterpe” and finally the flagship Leipzig Gewandthaus Orchestra conducted by Felix Mendelshon.
Quesser had leadership roles in all three orchestras, conducted all three bands, and achieved an international reputation by playing trombone solos all over Germany. He was Principal Viola of the Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1820 until 1843 where he also appeared as soloist on 27 occasions (on trombone!), and he was also the violist in the Gewandhaus String Quartet. As a trombonist he was entirely self-taught, yet no less than an authority as Robert Schumann declared Queisser “the trombone god”.
THE PLEASURE GARDEN KUCHENGARTEN, Leipzig
When Queisser got married in 1822, his father-in-law owned a pleasure garden called the Kuchengarten. After he died, Queisser owned it until 1841 or 1842. Here he also organized concerts and performed often as soloist. None of his various musical activities paid so well as the Kuchengarten, probably his largest single income stream.
FERDINAND DAVID (1810-1873)
violinist and composer. Photo from collection Manskopf, UB Frankfurt
When you look at Belcke and Queisser’s outstanding career, and see that they are almost forgotten, it is because of the repertoire: it went the same way! The piece from their repertoire that is best known is the ”Ferdinand David’s Concertino for trombone op.4”, written for Queisser in 1839 – today maybe the most performed trombone-concert of all. When Mendelssohn became conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1835 he was so impressed by Queisser’s trombone playing that he promised to write him a concerto. Owing to his busy schedule and new lover, he persuaded his orchestra’s concertmaster Ferdinand David (and 1st violinist in the Gewandhaus String Quartet) to write him a piece. The concertino is originally a violin work consisting of only the slow movement; the outer movements are added later by the composer.
The first performance of this work took place on the 14th of December 1837, in a concert under Mendelssohn’s direction, which included the latter’s Hebrides Overture, a Mozart Concert Aria and a scene from Handel’s Judas Maccabeus, both sung by the acclaimed English soprano Clara Novello, and the second symphony of George Onslow. Rolf Handrow quotes a review for the Allgemeinen musikalisches Zeitung:
“We are familiar with Mr. Queisser’s nobly powerful and rich tone throughout all registers, its clarity and precision in fast moving passages, it’s mild and gracious expression in simple melodies. It’s “forte” is reminiscent of the most beautiful organ pedal: and in “piano” we could imagine hearing a thrue master of the (french)horn.”
THE GRAND CONCERT HALL IN THE LEIPZIG GEWANDHAUS C. 1850
What instrument did Quesser play at the premiere? The concert is written for bass trombone but it has probably not been an F-bass trombone, but rather a Bb tenor trombone with large bore – not far from today’s large bore Bb tenor trombone? If so, did the term “tenor-bass trombone” even exist before Satler’s invention in 1839?
FRONT PAGE OF THE FIRST PRINTED EDITION OF DAVIDS CONCERTO
It is dedicated to Quesser and clearly written for “Trombone bass” – bass Trombone
This corresponds very well with the fact that Musicologist Joseph Fröhlich (Bonn, 1811) and trombonist Andreas Nemetz (Vienna, 1827) both have described that the alto, tenor, and bass trombones was tuned in Bb, but the the difference between them was only the size of the mouthpiece. They had, however, knowledge of other sizes of alto- and bass trombones.
TENOR and BASS TROMBONE MOUTHPIECES
Left: Nemetz, right: Frölich
FRANZ JOSEPH FRÖLICH (1780 – 1862)
German music scientist and musicologist
His writings have provided us with knowledge about the brass instruments of the early 19th century
Surprisingly Queisser was never part of the actual trombone section in the Gewandhaus Orchestra, which did not have a permanent trombone section until 1842. Before then, it hired trombonists as extras when needed. Queisser however played in the Gewandhaus’ trombone section at one occasion, a fact worthy of notice in the Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung. In 1839 Queisser again performed David’s Concertino, now on the new Sattler trombone with F-valve. For the last piece on the program, the finale of Rossini’s Semiramis, he put down his viola and played the new trombone. The review of the concert was mostly about Sattler’s invention, as demonstrated by Queisser both in his ordinary role as soloist and the one-time role as a section player:
“After much experimentation the long-famous brass instrument maker Sattler in Leipzig has succeeded in giving the impressive trombone the ultimate, much-desired perfection —- Now to aid both composers and players, he has provided the tenor-bass trombone with a mechanism which will completely replace the Quart- and Quint-Posaune (Bass Trombone in F and Eb) formerly used in orchestras”.
PROGRAM FROM NORTH GERMAN MUSIC FESTIVAL 1841
The close up shows FRANZ LIZST and QUESSER side by side as instrumental soloists
Belcke and Queisser became role models and got several successors, but these were always compared to the 2 celebrities. A Leipzig correspondent reports about Martin Schmidt from Kassel:
“He is a second Paganinni, he really does incredible things, even more than even the most skilled horn player can do and he achieved unmatched performance.
After another concert in Vienna, the correspondent write:
In succession, as we have already mentioned before, Martin Schmidt is perhaps the first, unmatched master at the trombone. We do not believe whether he is better than our own Queisser until he has stood the test with him and won”.
That it was something completely new with concerts for trombone was no guarantee of success, even Queisser could be criticized by the somewhat skeptical press:
“Honor of great bravery and skill, but a trombone concert always remains an unfortunate task and its effect is insufficient, even if it is carried out as artfully as Mr. Queisser always does. The bear is not made to dance but is made to growl”.
Another well known romantic trombone concerto is the Concerto for trombone and wind band written by the Russian composer Rimsky Korsakov. For much of his life, Rimsky-Korsakov combined his composition and teaching with a career in the Russian military, at first as an officer in the Imperial Russian Navy, then as the civilian Inspector of Naval Bands. He found the solo repertoire for trombone too poor and therefore he wrote his concerto for trombone and wind band for a fellow marine officer Leonov, who premiered it at a garrison concert at Kronstadt on 16 March 1878.
It was not until in the 20th century that the German idea of trombone players as virtuoso soloists died out (Se the 20TH CENTURY II, ) – until a new international era for trombone soloists emerged again in the end of the 20th century with a lot of virtuoso players.
12. THE TROMBONE IN FRANCE
The German trombone was full and relatively dark in sound, while the French trombone was light in sound, with a small, almost “baroque’ish” bore. The French music life existed mainly of freelance musicians. To be free and not bound of specialisms the French trombone group was put together with three tenor trombones without a F-valve. That is the reason why the French bass trombone parts from up the beginnig af the 1900s never get lower than E. During the 1800 century wrote three leading French trombonists each their trombone method: Vorbaron in 1834, Antoine Dieppo in 1837 and Cornette in 1854.
ILLUSTRATION FROM VORBARONS METHOD
In his Grande Méthode de trombone Vobaron includes a drawing showing a rear-facing trombone from both sides
ILLUSTRATION FROM ANTOINE DIEPPIO’s TROMBONE METHOD
Antoine Dieppo (1808 –1878) was the leading French trombone player of his time. He became the first professor of trombone at the Paris Conservatory upon the trombone class’ official formation in 1836. It was for him that Hector Berlioz wrote a big trombone solo in Grande symphonie funèbre et triomphale (English: Grand Funeral and Triumphal Symphony), Op. 15, written for military band, choir & strings, first performed on 28 July 1840 in Paris
FRONT PAGE FROM CORNETTE’s TROMBONE METHOD
The french trombone had a narrow bore, nearly like a Baroque Trombone. Cornette was obviously a very versatile musician, because as can be seen on the front page he has also written methods for: Violin, flute, cornet, cello, doublebass, flaegolet (a kind of flute), horn, clarinet, bassoon, ophicleide and accordeon!
FRENCH COUTOIS TENOR TROMBONE FROM 1866
Berlioz’s Grande traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes from 1843 (2ndedition 1855) is the first important orchestration treatise. Although the tenor trombone was dominant in France, Berlioz wrote about both alto, tenor and bass trombone
Berlioz himself wrote for alto trombone in E-flat, notated in alto clef, until 1835. About his Symphonie fantastique (1830), he wrote, “the alto trombone part must not be played on a big trombone (tenor trombone) as is often done in France: I demand a true alto trombone.”
Berlioz never personally heard a long bass trombone until Johann Strauss, Sr. visited Paris with his orchestra in 1837. He describes its character as “majestic, formidable, and awe-inspiring.” He notes that German orchestras had bass trombones in E-Flat and F and that English orchestras used a bass trombone in G. Berlioz notes that playing bass trombone fatigues even the most robust players. It requires much more air, as well as a handle on the slide so the player could reach the outer positions. The bass trombone can’t play as quickly as other sizes, both because of the clumsy handle and because the notes take longer to speak.
In his orchestration text Hector Berlioz writes otherwise excited about the trombone:
“In my opinion, the trombone is the true head of that family of wind instruments which I have named the epic one. It possesses nobility and grandeur to the highest degree; it has all the serious and powerful tones of sublime musical poetry, from religious calm and imposing accents, to savage, orgiastic outbursts. Directed by the will of a master, the trombones can chant like a choir of priests, threaten, utter gloomy sighs, a mournful lament or a bright hymn of glory. They can break forth into awe-inspiring cries and awaken the dead or doom the living with their fearful voice.”
MELODY FOR 200 TROMBONES.,1844—France
Famous caricaturist Jean-Ignace-Isidore Gérard (also known as J. J. Grandville) publishes a caricature – A parody of perceived overuse of brass in contemporary music, it depicts 2 longs lines of trombonists. The caption instructs that the piece be played “with fire, fortissimo, repeated 300 times, then louder still” .
13. THE TROMBONE IN UK
THE LOW BRASS GROUP IN LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 1922
The French trombone sound was taken over by the Englishmen. The small bore on the English trombone gave it the nickname “peashooter”. The 2 tenor trombones were supplemented with the English specialty, “Bass Trombone in G”, with handle on the slide like the F Trombone.
BRITISH G-BASS TROMBONE
The narrow-bore G bass trombone was a common feature of British bands and brass sections in the first half of the twentieth century, but by the 1950s it was replaced by the wide-bore Bb and F instrument.
English trombone player Denis Wick tells (see PROMINENT TROMBONE PLAYERS in THE 20′ CENTURY I): “The mystery of a G rather than the german F bass trombone has never been satisfactorily explained, except possibly guessed at by me. My theory is that playing in the front of a marching band, the spectacular effect of tonic-and-dominant “ompah” notes were really effective in the traditional keys of Ab and Db, where the six-foot length of trombone slide was waving about. A sight to behold !”. In the 1920s the company Boosey had produced a slightly larger orchestral model G bass trombone with a valve to D – this could play the missing low C and B required in the symphonic repertoire that have been written for the continental F bass trombone.
Not all players welcomed the new Bb bass trombone. Godfrey Kneller, bass trombonist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, wrote an article for the journal, The Musician, in defense of the G trombone, describing it variously as “the English Rose” and “the King of the orchestra,” and relating approval of the instrument from various British and foreign conductors, including Eugene Goossens, Ernest Ansermet, and Eduard van Beinum, the latter having apparently insisted that the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra adopt the instrument on the strength of his UK conducting experiences.
GODFREY KNELLER PLAYING THE G BASS TROMBONE
– with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1946. John ‘Tug’ Wilson is playing the British F – tuba
THE ENGLISH ROSE
The illustration that accompanied Godfrey Kneller’s article
That the shift from the G bass trombone to the Bb and F bass trombone was something of a challenge can be seen in the following story told by Dennis Wick: “My bass trombone colleague in LSO, Tony Thorpe used an German Fischer Bb bass trombone. He actually had a small handle made to make it look like a “G” in case conductors objected! “
THE BRITISH G-BASS TROMBONE IN THE MARCHING COLDSTREAMS GUARDS
Postcard from c.1905 painted by Harry Payne (1858-1927)
SIDNEY LANGSTON (here in the ceremonial uniform of H.M. Life Guards Band)
– was Dennis Wick’s teacher at the Royal Academy of Music. Like all English trombonists up to the 1950s, he still played on a small bore trombone – called Peashooter.
14. THE VALVE TROMBONE
The valve system was also used on the trombones, and alto-, tenor-, as well as bass trombones were built with a valve system. Although the sound quality was never as good as that of the slide trombone, the valve trombone was easier to handle and the results were much better because of the slow action of the slides of the time. For military musicians it was far more practical, especially for military musicians on horseback. The valve trombone was probably more common in the nineteenth century than the slide trombone. The exception was in Britain, where the slide instrument seems to have been prominent. This might have been because some brass band contests explicitly banned the use of valve trombones.
TENOR VALVE TROMBONE
GIOVACCHINO BIMBONI (1810-1895), ITALY, PLAYING A VALVE TROMBONE
Lithograph by Guiseppe Ciardi. In 1860 Bimboni is appointed professor of trumpet and trombone at the Cherubini Conservatory, Firenze. Between 1880 and 1889 he writes a valve trombone method, Metodo per trombone a piston. He also performed as soloist on the valve trombone. Bimboni played exclusively Italian operatic arias or variations and potpourris based on them.
. In 1850 Bimboni invents a valve trombone called a “Bimbonifono” in which a separate rotary valve is used for each of the seven slide positions in an attempt to avoid the tuning problems of other valve systems.
VALVE TROMBONE MADE BY PIETRO BORSARI
Bologna, Italy ca. 1870, Metropolitan Museum New York.
VALVE TROMBONE WITH UPWARDS POINTING BEL – CRACK TROMBONE
MADE BY THE SWEDISH COMPANY AHLBERG OG OHLSSON c. 1900. Photo from Internet Forum Horn–u-Copia.
– German picture from 1905 – 1910.
PORTRAIT PAINTING OF A VALVE TROMBONE PLAYER
Michigan, USA. Reproduced on a Cabinet Card photo, a special type of photo that was popular 1860-1900..
In the end the slide trombone came back with a better sound and better intonation than the valve trombone, and the slide trombone was reestablished as the instrument of preference in most of Europe and the United States between 1890 and 1925.
In Spain, Eastern Europe and Italy the valve trombones lived somewhat longer. All trombone parts by Dvorak, Janacek and Verdi are written with the valve trombone in mind, sometimes Verdi even writes trills in his trombone parts.
When Gustav Mahler was appointed to the Opera in Vienna in 1895, the valve trombonists were ordered to use the slide instrument and were actually paid to take lessons! Slide trombones had apparently not been used for 40-50 years. In 1902 the principal (slide) trombonist at the Hamburg Opera Franz Dreyer, was imported to play the big solo at the the premiere of Mahlers 3rd symphony in Krefeld, Germany. Apparently, the Viennese players were still not good enough!
In 1900 the American wind band leader John Philip Sousa gave a comment about the use of alto horns and valve trombones in French bands: “They are only poor concessions to the laziness of instrumentalists, and are a poor substitute for the warm, effective, and beautiful tone of the French horn and the trombone”.
CIGARETTE PACK for W. DUKES & SONS 1888
– with a female valve trombone player.
15. THE CIMBASSO
There is an instrument in Verdi’s orchestral music which is called, Cimbasso, – a combination of “C in basso”. The part was first played on an ophicleide, russian bassoon or serpentone, but, as it is placed directly under the trombones in the score, it has for many years been played on the tuba. Verdi only wrote for tuba, bombardone, in the off stage music for wind band which appears in many of his operas. We know for sure that Verdi gave it some thought. He did not like the sound of the tuba under the trombones, in his opinion it was not homogeneous. In connection with the premiere of his opera Aida (1871) in Cairo he writes to Guillio Ricordi, the publisher:
“I would prefer a bass trombone that is of the same family as the other trombones, but if it is too difficult or too weary to play the part, use rather a normal ophicleide that can go as low as the deep B – or do whatever you like, if only you do not use the dammed bombardone, (tuba) which absolutely does not mix with the other instruments”.
In 1881 Verdi did something himself to solve his problem. He listened to a range of deep brass instruments at the firm of the instrument maker Giuseppe Pelitti in Rome. And he got Pelitti to build a contra bass trombone in BB with valves – a complete octave lower than the tenor trombone. This is the instrument that Verdi had in mind in his two last operas, Othello and Falstaff, when he wrote Trombone basso. This instrument is also one of the characteristic ingredients in Verdis orchestral sound: A shrieking piccolo flute, a roaring bass drum and a hot-tempered cimbasso (often almost a contrabass trombone). In the last part of the 18th century the Italian low brass group existed of four valve trombones: two tenor trombones in Bb, one bass trombone in F and one contra bass trombone in BB.
CIMBASSO in BB
16. THE CONTRA BASS TROMBONE
Also Wagner lowered the sound of the trombones. At Wagner’s request, a special contrabass trombone in CC with a double slide was built to be used in the “Ring of the Nibelung” Like the bass trumpet and the Wagner tuba this instrument was built by Carl Wilhelm Moritz in Berlin. With this contrabass trombone Wagner got a splendid effective bass in the trombone section, and it is used at its best with lots of striking solo parts and chorale sounding accompaniments
CONTRA BASS TROMBONE IN CC WITH DOUBLE SLIDE
Photography of the tuba player August Helleberg in 1905 with an instrument like the contra bass trombone that was built for Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung.
CONTRA BASS TROMBONE, MODEL PROFUNDO, IN BB WITH DOUBLE SLIDE FROM 1885
The bell section is in a round formation encircles the player’s left arm. Bell Stamped:
Class A/TRADEMARK/DISTIN/BOOSEY & Co./295 REGENT STt./LONDON/31260.
The right figure shows the correct assembly of the instrument.
CONTRABASS TROMBONE IN CC MADE BY BOOSEY & Co, ENGLAND
This instrument was for many years the contrabass trombone used in British performances of music from Wagner’s Ring cycle and was known in the profession as ‘KING KONG’.
Around 1900 the valve trombone was still in use. In Opera houses in Scandinavian, Germany, and Austria the 3rd and 4th trombone parts (bass trombone -,cimbasso – and contrabass trombone parts) were often played on a valve-instrument in F like this:
VALVE BASS TROMBONE in F
Made c. 1890 BY: “Winter & Schöner”, Linz, Austria
DANISH MILITARY BAND, photo from 1911
The valve bass trombone in F was also used for the lower trombone parts i bands. On the close up you can clearly see an F-valve bass trombone:
BOY WITH AN F-VALVE BASS TROMBONE FROM A HUNGARIAN BOY BAND. Photo ca. 1912
17. THE LOW BRASS IN THE VIENNA OPERA ORCHESTRA
(FROM 1842 ALSO THE VIENNA PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA)
As an example of the development of the low brass instruments, we have a number of specific information from The Vienna Opera Orchestra.
In 1828 wrote Andreas Nemetz, trombonist of the Hofoper, a trombone method. He describes the alto, tenor and bass trombone as trombones tuned in Bb but using different mouthpieces. The F-trombone was, here at least, mostly used in military bands. Since the military band responsible for the stage music at the Vienna Opera had an F bass trombone, this instrument was nevertheless introduced to the opera, initially as a part of the stage music that occurs in many operas.
I 1835 Milan was a part of Austria and until 1848 Carlo Balochino and Bartolomeo Merelli was directors of both the Scala Opera in Milan and the Court Opera in Vienna, and it was under the influence from Milan that the idea of valve trombones came to Vienna.
LEOPOLD UHLMANNS (1806-1878) IMPERIAL, ROYAL PRIVILEGED WORKSHOP 1847
The Uhlmann family consisted of the father, Johann Tobias whose business flourished from 1810-1838, and three sons: Jakob (business – 1830-1851), Joesph (business 1843-1859) and Loepold (business 1834-1878). Leopold is famous for inventing the Vienna-valve.
Around the mid 1830’ the use of the valve trombone begun. The only thing we know about thees first valve trombones is that they were manufactured by the Austrian company Uhlmann. The lower 4. part in the low brass section (todays tuba part) was played on the bombardon, a narrow bore vienna “valve ophicleide” patented by Joseph Riedl, Vienna in 1829. It was build wit with 2 vienna-valves and from 1833 with 3 or 4 vienna-valves (a kind of tuba made even earlier than the official birthday of the tuba 12. of September 1835 ?).
UHLMANN BOMBARDON ca. 1840
LEOPOLD UHLMANN ADVERTISEMENT C. 1848
In the middle of the top a bombardon is seen
BOBARDONE, Vienna or Markneunkirchen c.1840
In 1858 the Vienna opera bought on request of bass trombonist Franz Pöckh a 4 valve bass trombone with 3 crooks. We don’t know if it was in Bb or F but according to Ignaz Assmayr, director of the Hofkapelle, it was “an instrument that was currently used in all orchestras”.
LEOPOLD UHLMANN’S TENOR TROMBONES IN Bb AND BASS TROMBONES IN F WITH VALVES (1847)
L. with Vienna valves, R. with rotary valves.
In 1868 the opera ordered 3 valve trombones in Bb and 2 valve bass trombones in F for the orchestra, and furthermore 2 bass trombones in F for the stage music – all from the company of Leopold Uhlmann. In 1875 tubist Otto Waldemar Brucks introduced the Moritz Wieprecht tuba, a narrow bore tuba in F with a light trombonistic sound.
MORITZ WIEPRECHT TUBA FROM 1835
In 1883 the slide trombone was reintroduced when the opera bought: 1 Eb-alto slide trombone, one Bb-tenor slide trombone and 2 Bb-tenor-bass slide trombones (with f-valve). Fourth trombone parts (contrabass trombone parts and cimbasso parts) was still played on the F-valve bass trombone.
When Gustav Mahler was appointed to the Opera in Vienna in 1895, the valve trombonists were ordered to use the slide instrument, and were actually paid to take lessons! Mahler’s 1st (slide) trombonist at the Hamburg Opera was Franz Dreyer, who played the big trombone solo in the premiere of Mahlers 3rd symphony in Krefeld in 1902. Apparently the Viennese players were still not good enough for this? Franx Dreyer later became a member of the member of the Vienna Philharmonic trombone section from 1904 until 1945.
In 1927 the Vienna tubist Friederich Tritt played the contrabass trombone part in the Ring in Bayreuth but now surprisingly on a F-slide trombone ! He later also used it in the Vienna Opera.
BASSTROMBONIST FROM THE VIENNA PHILHARMONIC ORCH. KARL JEITLER
WITH FRIEDERICH TRITT’s BASS TROMBONE in F FROM 1927
Due to embouchure problems switching between the tuba mouthpiece and the smaller mouthpiece to the F-slide trombone, the F-VALVE bass trombone was reintroduced.
PROF. FRIEDERICH KNAPFE, TUBIST IN THE VIENNA PHILHARMONIC 1919 – 1943
– WITH HIS 6 VALVE VIENNA TUBA
In 1928 the tubist in Vienna Philhamonic Friederick Knapfe played on a so called vienna tuba. This tuba was pitched in F still with a small bore but now with 6 valves. Since the 2 tubaists in the orchestra were responsible for the F-valve bass trombone parts, a new F-valve bass trombone was made by request from Knapfe, but now with the same 6-valve system as the Vienna tuba. This instrument was used for Cimbasso parts, Puccini contrabass trombone parts and – strangely enough – also for contrabass trombone-parts of Wagner until 1995 when the tubaist Josef Hummel retired.
JOSEF HUMMEL PLAYS ON 6 VALVE TROMBONE IN F
– during recording of Wagner’s Ring with Georg Solti as conductor in 1965.