Monday, February 05, 2018

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.

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. As the newly published score explains, "this new edition refers and fundamentally adheres to the original printed instrumental parts, issued without full scores in the 1850's. A full score for each quintet has been reconstructed to permit better analysis of the music."

 Bellon's biography from from Editions BIM:

Born in Lyon, France on 30 May 1795, Jean Bellon concluded his musical schooling at the Conservatoire de Paris, probably as the student of Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766-1831) in violin (Premier Prix in 1823) and Anton Reicha (1770-1836) in composition. He subsequently became concertmaster of the Concerts Musard, and conducted various Parisian orchestras. 

As composer, his name is mentioned in several articles published by French musical journals, essentially in connection with his chamber music. Apart from his 12 brass quintets and some pieces for strings, few of his works are to be found today. Immortalized in a portrait by Ed. Hébert (1812-1890) and printed by the major French publisher, Richault, Jean Bellon was without doubt a notable personage of Parisian musical life in his day, as would suggest the dedicatees of his quintets. He died in Paris on 2 March 1869, six days before Hector Berlioz.

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