Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

Duration: 20:00
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

When I was approached by the Chicago Symphony in 1986 with the novel idea of commissioning a work for tenor trombone and a second work for bass trombone and orchestra, I was thrilled because I have long wanted to write something substantial for the trombone. Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra (1988), for Jay Friedman, is the first of the two projects, to be followed by a bass trombone work for Charles Vernon.

Although it has been neglected as such, I think the trombone is a wonderful solo instrument. In addition to sharing the same range, the tenor trombone possesses all the color and drama of the entire spectrum of male voices, from counter-tenor to bass-baritone. Continuing the vocal analogy, the trombone can be both lyric and dramatic. Add to these noble singing qualities the great instrumental flexibility and agility of our modern artist-performers and you have an instrument which commands the stage as a soloist. Thus, one of my aims in Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra was to cast the trombone as a protagonist in a role that ranges from the dramatic and lyrical to bold virtuosic display.

Besides its solo capabilities, the trombone is a most interesting instrument in relation to the orchestra. Its nature allows it to be a significant partner, not only to other brasses, but to woodwinds, strings and percussion as well. Because of its wide expressive range ?from bright to dark in color, for example- the solo trombone can reflect various instrumental contexts like a jewel seen in different settings. In my own Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra, the first movement, "Allegro", features the solo trombone in relation to the other brass, with significant solos for six horns in unison, the trumpets and other trombones, and for the tuba. The first movement also has an extended cadenza for the solo trombone. In the second movement, "Lento", the solo trombone is partnered mainly by strings, woodwinds and melodic, bell-like percussion. In the final movement, marked "Allegro moderato" at the beginning but with changes in tempo between moderately fast and slow, the orchestral settings are more blended and in a final quiet statement the orchestra underscores a singing chorale-like line in the solo trombone, a setting in which, for me, the trombone can achieve a nobility of sound unlike any other instrument.

Throughout the Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra, the relationship of the solo trombone to the orchestra is one of equal partnership and mutual exploration. The work is dedicated to Sir Georg Solti, Jay Friedman, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Composition Date 1988
Orchestration Solo Tbn.; 3 3 3 3 - 6 3 3 1; Perc. Pno. Str.
Premiere 2nd February 1989. Jay Friedman, Trombone, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti conducting.

Score Preview