The final group on Sunday’s Musical Friendships Chamber Music Concert will be a brass quintet; Ben and Brooke Logan, trumpets; Vanessa Leavett, horn; Joseph Titus, trombone; and Lee Stofer, tuba. They will be performing three works arranged for brass quintet:
Adagio, K.411 – W. A. Mozart (arr. for Empire Brass Quintet)
An Academic Procession – Johannes Brahms (arr. Michael Moore)
Girl with the Flaxen Hair – Claude Debussey (arr. David Sabourin)
The following program notes trace the history of the brass quintet:
The Brass Quintet as an independent ensemble arrived relatively late in the chamber music realm and relied to some degree on the development of brass instrument design and manufacture in the last decades of the nineteenth century. While Russian composer and engineer Victor Ewald (1860-1935) is considered the innovator of the modern brass quintet, a French violinist and composer Jean–François Bellon (1795-1869) wrote several brass quintets in the 1840s primarily to display the virtuosity possible with the improved designs in brass instruments. Bellon, however, used a variety of instrumental configurations for his quintets, and it was Ewald who arrived at the modern equivalent of the brass quintet.
Photographic evidence from about 1912 shows that Ewald himself played in a brass quintet. It is seen to consist of two piston-valved cornets, rather than the modern choice of trumpets; a rotary-valved alto horn, rather than the French horn; a rotary-valved tenor horn, rather than the trombone; and a rotary-valved tuba (played by Ewald himself). Of these instruments, it is the alto and tenor horns that are most strikingly different from their modern quintet counterparts.
Ewald wrote four quintets specifically for brass quintet and transposed a string quartet into a fifth quintet. Wikipedia offers the following summary since Ewald:
The contemporary brass quintet appeared in the late 1940s created by the Chicago Brass Quintet, followed in the 1950s by the American Brass Quintet and the 1960s by the Eastman Brass Quintet. However, it was 1970 with the founding of Canadian Brass that the brass quintet finally became a major hall (i.e. Carnegie Hall main stage) attraction and accepted as a legitimate member of the chamber music world…Canadian Brass established both the style and popularity of the quintet medium throughout the world, having performed more than five thousand concerts and selling more than 500,000 quintet music books and creating a library of over 600 compositions and arrangements for brass quintet….Notable contributions to the [brass quintet] literature include many commissions by modern ensembles such as the American Brass Quintet and transcriptions by other ensembles such as the Canadian Brass.
The three arranged pieces programmed for today’s program are as follows:
Adagio, K.411 – W. A. Mozart (arranged by the Empire Brass Quintet)
An Academic Procession – Johannes Brahms (arranged by Michael Moore for Atlanta Brass Ensemble)
Girl with the Flaxen Hair – Claude Debussy (arranged by David Sabourin for Touch of Brass)
Program notes by William Driver