Joseph Haydn (31.03.1732 – 31.05.1809) was an Austrian composer of the Classical period. For most of his working life Haydn was a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family at their remote estate and thus isolated from many other musical influences. Joseph Haydn was a very influential composer and he was a friend and mentor of Mozart, a teacher of Beethoven, and the older brother of composer Michael Haydn. He played a major role in in the development of such forms of chamber music as the piano trio and the string quartet. Haydn wrote over a hundred symphonies leading to him acquiring the epithet “Father of the Symphony”, even if that is not exactly true!
Haydn also wrote a number of concertos for keyboard, violin, cello and a range of wind instruments together with a trumpet concerto that is a favourite of the trumpet repertoire; and is possibly the most popular of Haydn’s concertos¹.
Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat major, Hob. VIIe:1 was written in 1796 for his friend Anton Weidinger, who had developed a keyed trumpet which could play chromatically throughout its entire range unlike the existing valveless trumpet.
The work is composed in three movements (typical of a Classical period concerto), marked as followed:
I. Allegro (sonata)
II. Andante (A-B-A)
III. Allegro (rondo).
Haydn’s concerto is not only splendidly orchestrated but it also exploits the trumpet’s new technical abilities. The opening Allegro is festive and radiant, with the orchestra introducing the main themes before they’re taken up by the soloist. There’s a motif that initially rises, subsequently allowing the trumpet to show off its new stock of notes in the low register. This motif evolves into a fanfare-like subject, which the soloist enriches with effective trills and other ornamentation. The development section requires the trumpeter to play in different keys, which would have been impossible on a valveless trumpet. The second movement reveals the full lyrical and expressive potential of the new trumpet. In addition, this highly melodic movement, showcases the instrument’s ability to easily modulate from key to key. The final Allegro, in a sonata rondo form, begins with a fanfare-like theme, and continues with material which tests the soloist’s ability to handle trills and places further technical demands quite unlike earlier works for the trumpet. Following a brief development section, a recapitulation leads the trumpeter to a higher, brighter tessitura. The third movement ends with a gleaming, celebratory coda.
We really enjoy Crispian Steele-Perkins performance of this concerto recorded with Anthony Halstead and the English Chamber Orchestra and released in 2009. It comes with five further trumpet concertos and it is available at bargain price!
¹ His Cello Concertos are also frequently performed and widely appreciated.