Johannes Brahms, Symphony No. 1, 4th movement – Trombone chorale (IX)

Brahms started to compose his first symphony in 1860 but finished only after 16 years, in 1876. Some music historians thought that Brahms’s first symphony is Beethoven’s tenth symphony. In this symphony, Brahms composed an important chorale for trombones and performers must play this solo with professionalism and integrity. There are dots under the slurred notes and these spots always confuse performers. These dots mean that the notes should be separated from each other a little bit (slightly non-legato) but may not turn out to be dry (secco) staccatos. It should not be forgotten that every conductor wants a different interpretation. For this reason, performers must firstly listen the records.

The biggest difficulty in this work is that performers must start the choral with good intonation and timber without kicks, because before the passage they have to wait for a long time. Usage of air is the most important issue regarding this problem. Breathing in is more important than to exhale. Second trombone and bass trombone are substantial in that solo’s timbre. Especially second trombone must play in right intonation because it carries the harmony as the middle part. It must be played with a big and full sound. If performers play it with hot air, this solo will be soft and spacious. In addition to that, in orchestra exams bass trombone players must play that solo because it shows bass trombone player’s timbral qualities.

This solo must be practiced with a trombone group because performers can only catch the timbre, harmony, balance and intonation through collective practice.

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