Merritts Hill Music

Merritts Hill Music

Concerto for Trombone and Band

N. Rimsky-Korsakov

Category: Wind Band  > Classics

Duration: 9' 00"

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A new edition of an old favourite! Actually, trombonists either love this piece like a favourite grandchild or despise it as too short and too easy (which it is not).

Rimsky-Korsakov's involvement with military bands dated from 1873. He had just got married, had his first opera performed, and been appointed Professor of Practical Composition and Instrumentation at the St Petersburg Conservatory, a post for which he was totally unqualified although he took it anyway. However he was still a serving naval lieutenant, and to resolve the situation the Minister of Marine created the civilian post of Inspector of Naval Bands, into which he threw himself with much enthusiasm.

During this tenure he composed the trombone concerto, another one for clarinet and a less well known oboe piece. These were experimental works without precedent. Although he assiduously studied the workings of a band, his instrumentation is by our standards over-reliant on double reeds while the alto and bass clarinets are under-used. Saxophones were not yet available. This edition remedies those historical shortcomings. It also tries to resolve some of the anomalies of dynamics in the score. The only source available to the present arranger was the Soviet MUZGIZ edition of 1950. What the music engraving of that era lacks in elegance it makes up for in errors. In fairness it does contain several good editorial suggestions, all of which are included, but there are still gaps which have had to be filled.

The result is something which works for a typical modern wind band which is more likely to have a baritone sax than a second bassoon and does not rely on a second oboe. The sax parts are optional but it is assumed they will be played. The composer wrote for two B flat cornets, two F trumpets (possibly of the orchestral type) and two E flat trumpets (probably field type). Likewise the horns were probably a pair of F waldhorns and a pair of E flat saxhorns. (Later Russian band scores would group orchestral and military instruments separately to make this clearer.)

The distinction between cornets and trumpets is maintained in this edition but they are all written in B flat and all the horns are in F. The contrabass clarinet part is also written out for contra-alto clarinet or contrabassoon. The timpani part is optional but the other percussion are original.