Monday, February 13, 2017

The Truth About Ewald

Viktor Ewald

This morning, we studied the score and listened to Ewald's Brass Quintet No.3. I gave you each a copy of the article History of the Four Quintets for Brass by Victor Ewald, written by André Smith for the International Trumpet Guild Journal. I would like you to read it and post on your own blog your impressions of this article. Some a

After you read the article, respond to the following questions in a post on your own blog.
  • What did you know about Ewald and his brass quintet before reading this article? 
  • What did this article teach you about proper research?
  • What questions did this article raise?
  • What are your thoughts on rotary vs. piston valve preferences mentioned in the article?
  • Do you agree with Forsyth who wrote, "There is in general no true legato on the trombone"
  • What are your thoughts about Smith's ideas on instrumentation mentioned on page 13.
  • In regards to the modern revival of Ewald's brass quintets, what roles did the following people play? Froides Werke, the American Brass Quintet, the Empire Brass Quintet?
  • What has been your experience both playing and listening to the Ewald quintets?

Some of the common questions regarding these brass quintets include "Why did he write them?" I first heard that Ewald was a teacher, a Civil Engineer and an amateur cellist who played in a string quartet called the Belaiv Quartet. But, as Smith brought out in his article, Ewald played many instruments, including tuba and cornet. He was also motivated and influenced by composers and brass artists of the day, and even by attending the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

He also points out his collaboration with the American Brass Quintet in preparation for a Carnegie Hall Recital in the early '70s, and the confusion and spread of the quintets back to Russia, and then into the hands of the Empire Brass through Froides Wekre.

Until relatively recently, it was believed that Ewald penned only three brass quintets, but as Smith points out, his first work was a brass quintet that many, including Ewald himself, thought the work unplayable - so he reworked it as a string quartet. Many got the story backwards, and thought that the fourth brass quintet was originally a string quartet.

The lesson I hope we learn from this article is the importance of accurate, and methodical research. Smith waited forty-three years to gather his information before publishing his articles. Think of that the next time you are writing a paper.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Listening Presentation Guidelines

Atlantic Brass Quintet recording session, courtesy of Bove Audio
After enjoying our first student listening presentation today, I thought I would provide some guidelines and suggestions that might clarify the aim of the sessions. I've amended the syllabus to reflect these guidelines below to read:
Student Listening Presentations (2)
  • Dates individually assigned (refer to class schedule)
  • Strive for a good variety of types of ensembles:
    • Small mixed or homogeneous ensembles (brass trio, horn quartet, etc.)
    • Brass quintet (tuba or bass trombone as bottom voice)
    • Large ensemble (brass choir, brass ensemble, brass band)
  • Strive for a variety of styles, nationalities, and eras
  • Balance original works against arrangements
  • Presentations may include videos, but be mindful of YouTube advertisements.
 The three main aspects to keep in mind are:
  1. Recording Quality - When possible, present professional recordings with excellent sound quality and engineering. Recordings should be evenly balanced, with good microphone placement and recorded in an acoustical environment that has sufficient reverberation without being too much so. Some live recordings may display much more energy and musicality than edited recordings, or may be the only recording available. Use these suggestions and your best judgement regarding assessing quality.
  2. Diversity - Ensure your presentation shows a diversity of types of ensembles, styles of music, a balance of original works for brass as well as quality arrangements. Strive to "research" outside of your comfort zone. We do want you to share recordings that you enjoy, but also try to discover something new to you and share that as well.
  3. Presentation medium  - It is recommended that you bring a laptop or smartphone that can be connected to my speakers. Playing from a playlist on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, or other streaming service should be fine. You may also bring separate CDs, or consider compiling the list onto a CD, which I can play from my stereo. As it says above, when using YouTube, be aware of advertisements. Perhaps limit your use of YouTube for recordings that is accompanied by video.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Beethoven and Bellon

Beethoven's Funeral as painted by Franz Stöber (notice the trombones in the front of the procession)

Today in class we listened to two early works for brass ensemble: Beethoven's Drei Equali and Jean-Francois Bellon's Brass Quintet No. 1. Beethoven wrote his Equali in 1812 in Linz, Austria for the celebration of All Saints Day. The Equali were arranged for trombones, male choir and organ in a setting of Miserere for Beethoven's own funeral in 1827. Also, check out these program notes about the Drei Equale from the San Francisco Symphony.

Jean Francois Bellon
The twelve brass quintets by Bellon are the earliest brass quintets written. They were originally scored for flugelhorn in E-flat, piston valve cornet, horn, trombone and ophicleide. Published in Paris in the 1850's they are charming and seem influenced by the style of Rossini. Here is a link to the sheet music (at Editions BIM) for the twelve brass quintets by Jean Francois Bellon.

Below  is Bellon's biography from From Classical Plus: 

Jean-François Bellon was a Paris-based violinist and composer. As a result of the Waterloo War in 1815, his training at the Paris Conservatoire was delayed, so it was at the advanced age of 28 that he won the violin prize there. While at the Conservatoire he also composed pieces for fellow students.
Bellon went on to play in many popular Paris orchestras of his day, and was also the inventor of a type of mute for the violin and cello, which he patented, and examples of which are still kept in the Paris Conservatoire Museum. He became the leader of the Musard Orchestra in Paris and it was probably drawing on the brass section of this orchestra that he was able to form an ensemble to perform his Quintets. 
As a violinist however, his writing for brass is typical of string chamber music, particularly the string quartet, a quality which not only led to more individually sculpted part-writing for each instrument than was common in contemporary brass chamber music, but also the influence of string articulation and phrasing in Bellon’s score markings.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Historic Brass Ensemble Listening

English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble
Yesterday in class we listened to a variety of recordings of brass ensemble music written prior to the twentieth century. They were:
  1. La Bignani by Giovanni Cavaccio recorded by the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble
  2. Canzona a 5 by Claudio Merula - recorded by the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble
  3. Battle Suite: II. Courant by Samuel Scheidt - recorded by the American Brass Quintet
  4. Marche Fur Die Arche by C.P.E. Bach - recorded by the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps
  5. Canzona per sonare No. 27 by Giovanni Gabrieli - recorded by the Brass Sections of the Philadelphia, Cleveland and Chicago Symphony Orchestras.
  6. Minuetto from Brass Quintet No. 4 by Jean François Bellon - recorded by the Ewald Brass Quintet
  7. Sonata Pian e forte from Sacrae Symphonies by Giovanni Gabrieli - recorded by the brass section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
  8. Flensborger March by Jensen recorded by the Copenhagen Brass.
  9. Arie Per Il Balletto A Cavallo by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer - recorded by the Brass Ensemble of the Tonkuenstler Orchestra
  10. Grund - Richtiger Unterricht Sonata for three trombones by Daniel Speer - recorded by the Brass Ensemble of the Tonkuenstler Orchestra
  11. Fanfstimmige Blasende Musick by Johann Pezel - recorded by the Brass Ensemble of the Tonkuenstler Orchestra
  12. Air for 2 Horns and Organ in F Major, HWV 410 by George Frideric handel - recorded by Deutsche Naturhorn Solisten & Franz Raml
  13. Les Honnerus de Pied - recorded by Le Rallye-Cor de Montmélian - Cor de Chasse

Monday, January 23, 2017

People and Places of Brass Ensemble Music History

From A History of the Wind Band by Dr. Stephen L. Rhodes
I. Principal Composers and Places of Brass Ensemble History:
Links to Critical Places and Traditions:

II. Course-related Reading Online:
They're With the Band, Speaking That Global Language: Brass
by Josh Kun, New York Times, 4/9/2006
The Waits; A Short Historical Study by Lyndesay G. Langwill
A Short History of the Trombone by David Guion from the Online Trombone Journal
Town Waits and their Tunes by Joseph C. Bridge
A Golden Age of Brass by Annalyn Swan, Newsweek (from American Brass Quintet Website)
History and Heritage of the Trombone Choir by John Marcellus, Eastman School of Music
Something About Trombones (Moravian) from the Bethlehem Digital History Project
Early History of Brass Instruments Vienna Symphonic Library
Venitian Polychoral Style (Wikipedia entry)
Stadtpfeifers - Groves Online
Wait - Groves Online
Cornicen - Roman (military trumpeter)
Saxhorns (Wikipedia)

III. Significant Composers Throughout Brass Ensemble History:

A. Renaissance & Baroque

Andrea Gabrieli (1533-1585) Ricercari
Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1557-1612) Sacrae Symphoniae; Canzoni
Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina (1525-1594)
Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) L'Orfeo (five trombones)
Gioseffo Guami (c. 1540-1611) Canzoni
Anthony Holborne (1584-1602) Consort Music, Pavans...
Matthew Locke (1622-1677) Consort Music
William Brade (1560-1630) Dance Suites
Tielman Susato (c. 1500- c.1562)
Samuel Scheidt (1587-1653)
Johann Schein (1586-1630)
Johann Pezel (1639-1694)
George Friederich Handel (1685-1759) Water Music, Royal Fireworks

B. Classic and Romantic

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Drei Equali
Alexander Alyabiev [Aliabev] (1787-1851) Quintet in E-flat for Brass
Ludwig Maurer (1789-1878)
Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) Messe Solenelle (1824), Grande Messe des Morts (Requiem) [orch. + 4 antiphonal brass choirs]
Viktor Ewald (1860-1935) Brass Quintets Nos. 1-4
Wallingford Riegger (1885-1961) Music for Brass Choir, op. 45

C. Twentieth Century

Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) Fanfare on motifs of Die Gurre-Lieder for Brass and Percussion (1945)
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963 ) Brass Septet, Morgenmusik from "Ploner Musiktag"
Virgil Thompson (1896-1989) Family Portrait
Henri Tomasi (1901-1971) Fanfares Liturgiques
William Walton (1902-1983) Belshazzar's Feast (orchesrtra with two brass bands); Queen's Fanfare; Anniversary Fanfare; Numerous works for brass band and arrangements for brass.
Ingolf Dahl (1912-1970) Music for Brass Instruments (1944)
Alvin Etler (1913-1973)
Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994) Mini Overture
Vincent Persichetti (1915-1987)
Vaclav Nehlybel (1919-1996)
Alfred Reed (b. 1921-2005)
Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006)
Iannis Xanakis (1922-2001) Eonta, Akrata, A la Mémoire de Witold Lutoslawski
Fisher Tull (1934-1994)

D. Significant Living Composers

Gunther Schuller (b. 1925)
Verne Reynolds (b. 1926)
Walter Hartley (b. 1927)
La Monte Young (b. 1935)
Jan Bach (b. 1937)
Joan Tower (b. 1938)
John Cheetham (b. 1939)
Tania Leon (b. 1943)
Edward Gregson (b. 1945)
Anthony Plog (b. 1947)
David Sampson (b. 1951)
David Felder (b. 1953)
Eric Ewazen (b. 1954)
James Grant (b. 1954)
Richard Danielpour (b. 1956)
Ira Taxin (b. 1957)
Marti Epstein (b. 1959)
David Dzubay (b. 1964)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Starting Your Blog

If you haven't already launched your blog, here are some basic instructions on how to go about it. To start your blog, go to one of these free blogging services. They are pretty simple and intuitive.




1. Pick a theme that you might be interested in exploring, such as trumpet ensembles of South America; Brass Bands of Great Britain; or Collegiate Horn Choirs, etc. You will probably be prompted to name your blog, so base the name on your theme.

2. Not every post you create has to be related to your theme. They could be about the class, or another brass ensemble related idea, but in general think of your blog as public research and an online record of your exploration.

3. Be sure to send me the address (URL) of your blog so that I can link it to ABEL Central. In turn, you should add ABEL Central and your fellow students' blogs to your links list.

4. A post can be one or two paragraphs of opinion, review, or information about a course related issue, artist, or work. I encourage you to embed images, but remember to indicate photo credit to images that are not yours. It is also fairly easy to embed video from YouTube or Vimeo. Audio isn't always so easy, but depending on your provider, or a link to an audio hosting site, it is possible.

5. Hyperlinks are essential. If you are discussing the American Brass Quintet, it is more interactive to provide a link to the American Brass Quintet. It should be fairly easy to learn how to do this in your blog.

6. Be sure to post an average of twice per week. The minimum amount of blog posts is 24, but feel free to do more if you wish.

7. Also read each other's blogs, as well as ABEL central and subscribe to them so that you are notified when a new post or comment is added.

8. You may opt to make your blog private through your settings, which is fine, but make sure that everyone and the class and I have access to view it.

9. I encourage you to peruse student blogs from the past (list to the right here) as well as older posts on ABEL central.

10. If you already have a blog or website, it is okay to use it for this purpose as long as it is clear and easy to find ABEL related posts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Welcome Students - Spring 2017

"Brass Candy Trio" by Jeremy Armitage
Welcome to Advanced Brass Ensemble Literature, Spring 2017! ABEL Central is the class blog, where you will find information about the class, as well as links to your own course-related blogs. On the right-hand side bar, you'll see the course number, syllabus, ways to follow, search and subscribe this blog, and links to the blogs of former students. Additionally, there are links to professional brass ensembles and other resources.

I will be posting here, generally once a week, on things we covered in class, answers to questions that came up in class, and anything else that might be of interest to this course. This blog is ten years old today, so take advantage of perusing older posts, as well as blogs by former students for ideas for your own blog.