Three baroque movements for alto trombone

In our previous post, we discussed some of the pros and cons of playing the E-flat alto trombone as a transposing instrument in F, reading treble clef. As mentioned there, this approach has the benefit of leveraging on your knowledge and experience playing tenor, while drawing on the repertoire for instruments in F, in particular, F-horn.

We didn’t discuss any technical aspects of learning the alto trombone, I defer that part to experienced teachers. For information on the technical aspects of learning alto trombone, you can consult several excellent blogs by seasoned teachers and professionals. Will Kimball’s Learning the alto trombone is especially thorough. Remember that you can use these methods while playing the instrument as a transposing instrument.

Today I would like to share three pieces that I think are nice to play on the E-flat alto trombone (as a transposing instrument in F, reading treble clef). They are not easy pieces, but there is nothing like beautiful music to drive you to perfect your playing.

Baroque trombones from Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum (1620).
Baroque trombones. Detail from from Praetorius’ Syntagma Musicum (1620).

Notice that to avoid confusion I indicated the instrument as Horn in F and not as Alto Trombone.

Prelude from Corelli’s Sonata in D minor

I first heard this piece recorded by the great cellist Janos Starker. He also edited and published it in a collection of Italian Cello Sonatas. The prelude is particularly beautiful and playable, and its range is perfect for the alto trombone. Here it is transposed for F-instruments.

Corelli Sonata in D Minor Prelude

Allegro from Telemann’s Concerto in B-flat

Telemann’s Concerto in B-flat is a version of his Concerto in D for Horn. If you have the chops, you can play it in D. I think that’s good for a virtuoso. However, the third movement of the B-flat version is very beautiful and not too hard to play. I am posting the whole concerto.

Telemann Concerto in B-flat

(I did my best to ensure that these two pieces are error-free, but if you find any errors please let me know.)

Trio from Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major

The whole concerto could be played on the alto trombone by a qualified player. I myself prefer the Trio because I don’t have the chops to play the whole thing. If your chops are ready, you can tackle the Trio’s first horn part, otherwise, check the second horn part.

On a separate note, it’s my impression that it’s “easier” to play this piece on alto trombone than on a regular F-horn. Most horn players will probably use a high F descant horn to play this, which supports my point because a high F descant Horn is the same length as an alto trombone in F (not to be confused with an alto trombone in E-flat played as a transposing instrument in F).


(You can find the complete concerto at the IMSLP.)

Something to point out is that even if you are playing your alto trombone as a bonafide alto, reading alto clef, you still can play this pieces by playing it as a little tenor, as we discussed in our previous post.

Thanks for reading.

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