Closing our Musical Friendships chamber music concert will be a collection of music written by brass quintet. Join us this Sunday, November 10, at 3:00 pm, Zion Lutheran Church in Clinton, Iowa.

Arrival of the Queen of Sheba G. F. Handel/arr. Hauser

Exaltabo Te Giovanni de Palestrina/trans. Cooper

Tempting Davy’s Cup from Galleons and Cutlasses Kevin McKee

Moto Perpetuo from “Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge” Benjamin Britten/arr. Al Guss

Dave Hamburg and Lee Weimer, trumpets

Alan Gus, horn • Todd Slothower, trombone

Ron Morton, tuba

Enjoy the following program notes about the history of brass quintets and the composers of the pieces to be performed:

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…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.

Arrival of The Queen of Sheba is the Sinfonia from George Frederick Handel’s oratorio Solomon, composed in 1748. Solomon is based on the biblical texts concering King Solomon of Israel. The music announces the beginning of the Queen of Sheba’s state visit in Jerusalem. It is often used today as a processional piece for weddings, state visits, etc.

Exaltabo Te is based on a motet by Palestrina. The composer wrote primarily for vocal forces and very little for instrumental ensembles.

Tempting Davy’s Grip from Galleons and Cutlasses for Brass Quintet is best described by the composer himself: I have always been a huge fan of pirates… For a while now I have been waiting for a good opportunity to channel some of this pirate love into a composition and…I have finally been able to do so.  With 2 contrasting movements, Phantom Ship and Tempting Davy’s Grip, this is my ode to pirates.

Moto Perpetuo from Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge is derived from incomplete work of Benjamin Britten, a set of variations. Britten took the sketches from 1932 and completed it in 1937 as a commission for the Salzburg Festival of that year. The Moto Perpetuo is the seventh variation of ten.

~Program Notes by William Driver

Musical Friendships – Brass Quintet