Music for Trombone and Voice from the Hapsburg Empire: An Historical Overview with Tenor Trombone Transcriptions
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Compositions featuring voice and obbligato trombone reached an artistic peak in the courts and monasteries of 18th century Austria due to the convergence of several factors. These factors included the influence of Giovanni Gabrieli and the many northern Italian composers who worked for the Austrian Courts, the long history of religious connotations of the trombone in Germany and Austria, the high level of trombone playing in the courts of 18th century Vienna and Salzburg, and the unique ability of the trombone to blend with voices. This document explores the rich history of the trombone and charts the evolution of soloistic trombone writing in vocal music, from the innovations of large scale works by Gabrieli and Schutz, to the highly virtuosic obbligato writing of composers in 18th century Austrian monasteries and the courts of Vienna and Salzburg. This exploration takes place through discussion of general trends in trombone writing as well as by examination of specific selected pieces that illustrate interesting or unique stylistic features. The document accompanies recordings of two recitals of Austrian and German music for trombone and voice from the 17th and 18th centuries. The recitals include several transcriptions of music originally written for alto trombone and alto voice into keys that would be suitable for performance by tenor trombone and tenor voice. This was done with the goal of sparking interest in this repertoire by less experienced trombonists. This study is in no way intended to be comprehensive. Rather, its goal is to explore the factors that led to a sizable body of unique Austrian trombone compositions at a time when the role of the instrument had diminished greatly elsewhere in Europe.