Monday, November 28, 2011

Alison Balsom: Haydn Trumpet Concerto

Alison Balsom of Britain performs the  Haydn Trumpet Concerto  in E-flat, at the BBC Proms in September 2009 during its last evening performance on Saturday. Franz Joseph Haydn wrote the trumpet concerto in 1796, when he was 64 years old, for his long time friend Anton Weidinger, a Viennese court trumpeter and inventor of the keyed trumpet.

The trumpet has had a long noble history, and has been considered an important instrument of the royal court since about 1400 BCE. But its limitations eventually became apparent when compared to the violin, flute and oboe, which had more of a dynamic range. What was needed was to make a trumpet that could play all the notes on a scale. That happened in the late eighteenth century, says an article by David Roden, "Anton Weidinger’s Keyed Trumpet":
Enter Anton Weidinger (1767–1852). Weidinger was a Viennese court trumpeter. Around 1793, he began experimenting with some of these keyed trumpets, refining them and practicing with them. By 1796 he was making enough progress that he convinced Haydn to write a concerto for his Klappentrompette (keyed trumpet). He took that concerto on the road in 1803, playing it in France, Germany, and England. Weidinger caught the interest of composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel, who composed yet another concerto for him and his curious keyed trumpet.

The critics had good things to say about Weidinger’s trumpet and his playing. But it was too late. By 1820 the valved trumpet had appeared in Vienna and was rapidly taking over. Weidinger’s keyed trumpet hung on for a little longer; some musicians and composers preferred its tone to the valved trumpet’s. But by 1840 the Klappentrompette was forgotten – obsolete.


  1. Haydn is highly respected; nevertheless, he is an underrated composer. He is one of the greats of all time.

  2. Agreed. He might not have the panache of Mozart but his music is nevertheless inspiring.


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