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.

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