In the summer of 1977, while we were walking along a mountain road near Aspen, Colorado, Per Brevig asked me to write another trombone concerto. I had written my first concerto for him seven years earlier, and, not knowing immediately how I might write a second one, jokingly said, "If you can name one composer in the entire history of music who has written more than one trombone concerto, I will write you another one". Of course, being a trombonist, he quickly named one. I asked him what kind of a concerto I might write. The first one had been rather short, fourteen minutes, for small orchestra, and humorous in general character. "Make it big," he said, "like something Beethoven might have written."
I struggled with different ideas on the design of the Concerto for three years (during which time I wrote fifteen other compositions) and finally decided on a three movement work without a slow movement. While the harmonic language of the composition is not that of Beethoven, it is, nevertheless, "big."
The first movement is a sonata with a slow introduction in the clarinet. This melody reappears at important structural points within the movement: in the English horn before the development section and in the solo trombone before the recapitulation.
The second movement is a scherzo, but with a slow middle section, which gives an impression of a slow movement between the two fast sections of the scherzo. The overall design is, then, fast - slow - fast, ABA'.
The last movement opens with an extended slow introduction. While the concerto does not have a slow movement per se, slow sections form an important part of the second and third movements. After the introduction, the movement then continues in a rapid tempo in the form ABAC coda. The short coda recalls the opening Allegro of the first movement.
Trombone Concerto No. 2 has been recorded by the New York Chamber Orchestra, Gerard Schwarz conductor, with John Rojak performing the trombone solo.
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