Trombone Concerto

Programme Note

This concerto was commissioned by the Bedfordshire Education Service (with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain) specially for Michael Hext, who won the inaugural BBC Television ‘Young Musician of the Year’ competition in 1978. It was first performed in 1979 at the Royal College of Music by Michael Hext, with the Bedfordshire County Youth Orchestra, conducted by Michael Rose.

The work falls into three main sections, played without a break, but conforming to the traditional pattern of concerto structure. After a slow introduction, containing most of the motivic and rhythmic ideas used in the work, there follows the main fast section which is itself divided into three parts and concludes with a fierce climax (timpani and gong). The slow and rather intense middle section is linked to a cadenza for the soloist, at first unaccompanied but leading to accompanied references to earlier material. The final section is a scherzo which ends dramatically with a re-statement of the opening slow introduction. A brisk coda concludes the work. The interval of a fourth (and its augmented form) provides melodic and harmonic unity for the work, whilst the tonal juxtaposition between E minor and B flat major throughout the concerto is an important element of the structure.

The writing for trombone is virtuosic, encompassing the whole range of the instrument, but it also exploits the rather beautiful lyrical sound of which this instrument is capable.

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… this is a masterpiece. It is brilliantly written for the soloist and orchestra and yet is a thrilling piece of music in its own right.

Robert Matthew-Walker, International Record Review, January 2011

The range of effects Gregson conceives on the trombone .., is breathtaking …

Edward Greenfield, Gramophone, March 2011

Work Details

  • Date of Composition: 1979
  • Publisher: Novello
  • Genre:
  • Duration: 16'
  • Instrumentation: solo tbn+2(pic)222/2200/timp 4perc/str
  • Commission Information:
    Bedfordshire Education Service