Concerto for Bass Trombone

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

Duration: 18:00
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

In perhaps the most unusual project I have ever undertaken, I accepted commissions from the Chicago Symphony for two trombone concertos; one for tenor and a second for bass trombone. Although I had long wanted to write a large-scale work for trombone and orchestra and jumped at the chance to do so for the Chicago Symphony, I gave a great deal of thought to the subject before I said "yes" to two! After a long discussion in New York with Jay Friedman and Charles Vernon, which ended with each of them playing for me on the stage of Carnegie Hall, I became excited about the challenge of writing two dramatically different pieces.

Charlie Vernon's remarkable virtuosity on the bass trombone opens up a whole new approach to the instrument. For instance, his flexibility in the lowest register dramatically extends the usable range of the instrument while providing a sound quality that is strikingly different from the tenor trombone. My Concerto for Bass Trombone, Strings, Timpani, and Cymbals is decidedly for bass trombone. My two concertos are also contrasted in orchestral forces and the relationship of the solo to the ensemble. The Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra is scored for rather large orchestra (with six horns and three other trombones, for example), and while it is highly virtuosic for the trombone, the work is almost like an orchestral tone poem with the solo trombone being first among many characters. In the Concerto for Bass Trombone, Strings, Timpani, and Cymbals, while the solo has significant interaction with the orchestral forces, the work is, above all, a virtuoso bass trombone tour-de-force. Throughout the ages there have been great instrumental virtuosos who have opened up new vistas for composers who, in turn, have produced pieces which set a new instrumental standard.

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Composition Date 1989
Orchestration Solo B.Tbn.; Timp. Cymbals, Str.
Premiere 30th April, 1991. Charles Vernon, Bass Trombone, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim conducting.

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