Trumpet Concerto (Williams)

From Wind Repertory Project
John Williams

John Williams (trans. Paul Lavender)

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General Info

Year: 1996 / 2016
Duration: c. 7:15
Difficulty: VI (solo); V (ensemble) (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


1. Maestro
2. Risolute
3. Presto


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

John Williams’ affection for the trumpet is plainly evident in the music found in many of his most beloved film scores and concert works. From the fanfares in the unforgettable themes from Superman, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark to the moving trumpet solos in the scores to Born on the Fourth of July and Lincoln, Williams has explored every facet of the heroic and lyrical capabilities of the instrument, and it has served as a messenger for some of his most memorable music. In addition to his incredibly prolific work for film, Williams has continued to compose for the concert hall and has completed major concertos for nearly every instrument of the orchestra. His Trumpet Concerto was written in 1996 for the Cleveland Orchestra and its principal trumpet Michael Sachs. The work was premiered by Sachs and the Cleveland Orchestra on September 26, 1996, under the direction of then-Music Director Christoph von Dohnanyi. The debut of this significant addition to the trumpet repertoire garnered praise from the local press, with Donald Rosenberg of the Cleveland Plain Dealer noting the concerto’s “dignified personality, soloistic variety and orchestral color."

The form of the concerto is somewhat traditional and reflects the European classical structure of three movements—fast, slow, fast—and alternating solo and tutti sections, including a solo cadenza at the end of the first movement. However, the texture of the work is entirely contemporary, blending the unique elements of Williams’ popular musical language with a sophisticated symphonic tapestry. One of the composer’s goals was to invite the trumpet not just to make declamatory and dramatic statements (which are certainly present), but also ample opportunities to “sing." Though each movement contains lyrical elements, the movements are written in different styles meant to demonstrate the diverse qualities of the solo instrument. The work also endeavors to create substantive moments for the rest of the ensemble, which sets up an exciting dialogue between the soloist and the other musicians. The concerto’s opening movement is largely characterized by the traditional or ceremonial role of the trumpet. Bright fanfares sound out between the solo and ensemble in moments that Williams once described as “typical heralding, flag-waving” gestures. The development continues, alternating between these brassy declarations and lyrical episodes before the solo trumpet enters an extended cadenza. At the end of the cadenza, the trumpets within the ensemble join the soloist for a musical chase sequence, with each player trying to outdo the others before the soloist prevails and brings the movement to a conclusion with one final, brilliant flourish.

- Program Note from U.S. Marine Band concert program, 14 December 2016


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State Ratings

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Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


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