ClassicsOnline Home » HAYDN / HUMMEL / NERUDA: Trumpet Concertos
The Haydn and Hummel Concertos were composed for a brand new instrument invented by Anton Weidinger – who was a member of the court orchestra in Vienna – a trumpet with keys which increased both the range and flexibility of the instrument. The remaining two works are by Bohemian composers, the concerto by Neruda dating from a slightly earlier period, and the Variations of B. D. Weber the earliest work in this form composed for the valve trumpet.
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809): Concerto in E flat major
Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837): Concerto in E major
Jan Krˇtitel Jirˇí (Johann Baptist Georg) Neruda (c1707-c1780): Concerto in E flat major
Bedrˇich Divisˇ (Friedrich Dionys) Weber (1766-1842): Variations in F major
By 1796 Joseph Haydn was once again actively in the service of the Esterházy family. The death of his old employer Prince Nikolaus I in 1790 had released him from the great palace complex of Esterháza and allowed him two extended and highly successful visits to London. The new Prince, Paul Anton, had outlived his father by only four years and his son Prince Nikolaus II had followed the former in making his principal residence Eisenstadt, where Haydn had started his career with the family in 1761. Haydn now lived for most of the year in Vienna, moving to Eisenstadt only for a short period in the summer, there providing a number of Mass settings, while in Vienna occupied with the composition of oratorios, influenced by his stay in London, and of his last string quartets. The inspiration for the Trumpet Concerto that he completed in 1796 was a newly modified instrument, the keyed trumpet. An earlier limitation of the Baroque clarino was its inability to play consecutive notes in a lower register, confined as it was to the notes of the harmonic series, widely spaced in the lower register and more closely adjacent in the higher. Experiments had been made with the further development of the slide trumpet, on the principle of the trombone, and of the technique of hand-stopping to adjust the pitch, as with the French horn. It was, however, the invention in 1793 of a more effective form of keyed trumpet by Anton Weidinger, a friend of Haydn and a member of the Vienna court orchestra since 1792, that offered even wider possibilities, coming after less successful experiments in Dresden in the 1770s. Keys, operated by the player’s left hand, were added to the instrument, covering holes which could each raise the pitch a semitone. The keyed trumpet was later replaced by the valve trumpet of 1813 and fell into disuse. Weidinger introduced the new instrument and Haydn’s concerto to Vienna in a benefit concert in 1800. The concerto starts with an orchestral exposition during which the soloist is provided the means of warming up before the solo entry with the principal subject, later developed, before returning in a recapitulation leading to a virtuoso cadenza. French horns, orchestral trumpets and drums are not included in the scoring of the A flat major slow movement, with its effective use of the lower chromatic range of the keyed trumpet. The concerto ends with a brilliant rondo, witness both to Haydn’s unfailing powers of invention and to the technical prowess of Weidinger.
Johann Nepomuk Hummel was born in Pressburg, the modern Bratislava, in 1778, the son of a musician. Moving with his family to Vienna at the age of eight, he became a piano pupil of Mozart, before embarking on a public career as a virtuoso in 1788, on the latter’s advice. By 1793 he had returned once more to Vienna, studying, like Beethoven, with Albrechtsberger, Salieri and Haydn. It is said to have been on the recommendation of this last that Hummel was appointed Konzertmeister to Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, effectively performing the duties that Haydn had now relinquished, while retaining the title of Kapellmeister. He remained in the service of the Esterházys until 1811, when his contract, after a series of complaints, was ended. Thereafter he resumed his career as a virtuoso pianist before settling in Stuttgart as Kapellmeister and, eventually, in Weimar in the same capacity, while continuing, as far as he could, his concert tours. His Trumpet Concerto in E major was also written for the keyed trumpet and its inventor, Anton Weidinger, who gave the first performance at a court concert on New Year’s Day 1804. Unusual in its key, and often played in E flat rather than E, the concerto, more lightly scored, explores even more than Haydn’s work the possibilities of the new instrument. The orchestral exposition of the first movement again leads to the formal entry of the soloist with his version of the principal theme, followed by the return of the second subject, in the soloist’s exposition, a central development and a recapitulation. The slow movement, starting in the minor, allows the soloist a prolonged trill before the introduction of the principal theme, finally shifting to the major before the final rondo, which is ushered in by the repeated notes of the solo trumpet, a movement that brings taxing technical demands and bravura display.
The Bohemian composer Jan Krˇtitel Jirˇí Neruda, often known by the German form of his forenames, Johann Baptist Georg, was born about the year 1707 and trained in Prague. In 1750 he moved to Dresden as a member of the court orchestra, of which he subsequently became Konzertmeister, serving there through the difficult conditions brought about in Saxony by the Seven Years War. Charles Burney visited Dresden during the course of his tour through Germany in 1772 and remarks on Neruda’s continued presence in an orchestra in which his two sons were also employed, having served first under the Court Kapellmeister Johann Adolf Hasse and then under his successors. Neruda left a quantity of music of various kinds, including some fourteen concertos. The Trumpet Concerto belongs to an earlier musical world than Hummel’s work. Scored for an orchestra of strings, with continuo harpsichord, it is pre-classical in form, with an orchestral introduction, followed by the solo trumpet with the principal theme and its characteristic use of sequence in motifs expanded by successive repetition. The principal theme returns in the dominant in an orchestral ritornello before the trumpet entry with new material, a procedure followed in the following ritornello and final return of the principal theme in its original key, leading to a trumpet cadenza and coda. The orchestra offers the first statement of the main theme of the slow movement, followed by the solo trumpet with an elaboration and extension of the same material. A cadenza precedes the second orchestral section of the movement and the soloist leads the way back to the original key and to a second cadenza, before the Largo comes to a close. The concerto ends with a triple metre Vivace, its principal theme proposed by the orchestra, a ritornello that returns in different keys to frame a series of solo episodes, culminating in a trumpet cadenza.
Bedrˇich Divisˇ Weber, a Bohemian composer widely known by the German form of his forenames, Friedrich Dionys, had a particular interest in new developments in brass instruments and was himself responsible for a form of chromatic French horn. Born near Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad) in 1766, he studied philosophy and law in Prague, before turning his attention definitively to music. He had met Mozart, a composer who influenced him very greatly, and profited from instruction by Carl Maria von Weber’s later teacher, the versatile Abt Vogler. In 1811 he became the first director of the new Prague Conservatory, retaining that position until his death in 1842. Conservative in taste, he took objection to the music of Beethoven, as he did to that of Carl Maria von Weber, but nevertheless had his Conservatory students perform a symphony by Wagner, of which he apparently approved. He also served as director of the Prague Organ School, effectively controlling higher musical education in the region for many years. Weber’s Variations for trumpet and orchestra seems to have followed his own experiments with keyed instruments and the use of a keyed horn of his devising by a Prague student, Joseph Kail, who introduced the instrument to Vienna. Kail went on to develop the double piston Vienna valve for the French horn. It is reported that in 1828 a certain Herr Chlum played the present Variations on a chromatic trumpet of Kail’s invention, presumably the valve trumpet, making this work the earliest surviving example of such music. There is a slow introduction to the work, leading to the theme, marked Larghetto. The first variation introduces rapider figuration, with virtuoso triplets in the second and a demonstration of chromatic expertise in the third. The fourth and last variation is a Tempo di Polacca, with a satisfying concluding coda.