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20th Century Trombones

During the 20th century, trombones

have maintained there important position in the orchestra. Trombones have prominent parts in works by Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Rachmaninov, Gustav Holst, George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein. The works by these composers are still performed today.


In the second half of the 20th century, new composers began giving back to trombones a level of importance in solo and chamber music. Pieces such as Edgard Varèse's Octandre, Paul Hindemith's Sonata and Luciano Berio's Sequenza V led the way for lesser-known composers to build a wider repertoire. Trombones have enjoyed a lot of attention in the 20th century.

There are popular choices for recital music today that include Stjepan Sulek's Vox Gabrieli, Jacques Casterède's Sonatine and Jean Michel Defaye's Deux Danses. The very best known concertos for trombones from this period include works by Derek Bourgeois, Lars-Erik Larsson, Launy Grøndahl, Jan Sandström and Gordon Jacob. More and more student choose to learn to play trombones in school than learn to play tubas.

There have been numerous changes in construction on trombones that have occurred during the 20th century. These changes include the use of different materials, an increase in mouthpiece size, bore and bell dimensions. Trombones even have new valve types and there have been innovations to the different mute types. The changes have made the sound from trombones clearer and more dynamic.

Today, trombones can usually be found in all types of wind ensembles, concert bands, symphony orchestras, marching bands, military bands, brass bands and even brass choirs. Trombones can also be part of smaller groups as well, such as brass quintets, quartets, or trios. Trombones also participate in trombone trios, quartets and choirs. Twenty trombones in a trombone choir are definitely a sight to behold.

The size of trombone choirs vary greatly from five or six to twenty or more members. Trombones are also common in lot of kinds of music, like swing, jazz, salsa, and ska. Trombones have made undisputed advances in jazz and swing music. There are artists famous for their prowess with trombones, These artists included Glenn Miller. Glenn Miller has been quoted as saying that “…I have played the trombone in so many bands, I can’t count them all."



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