Originally composed in E major, Hummel's Trumpet Concerto is generally transposed today to E flat to make it easier for the modern trumpet to perform. Written specifically for Anton Weidinger's keyed chromatic trumpet (the same instrument that Haydn's Trumpet Concerto was composed for), it was forgotten for years, rediscoverd in the 20th century, and only published in 1957. Since then, it has become the quintessential Trumpet Concerto and is likely to remain a staple of the repertoire for many years to come.
The work was completed on 8 December 1803 and given its first performance by Weidinger on New Year's Day 1804 at Eisenstadt in front of Hummel's future employers, the Esterhazys. Although the tone quality of the keyed trumpet was flawed, it was one of the first fully chromatic instruments and therefore opened up new possibilities in trumpet-writing; chromatic writing of the lower register, heard especially in the Andante and the finale, would have been impossible on the natural trumpet.
The work opens with a martial Allegro con spirito, reminiscent of Mozart's Haffner Symphony and entirely appropriate for the military connections of the trumpet. It continues with a more operatic Andante and concludes with the famous pyrotechnics of the Rondo.
Hummel was born into a musical family on 14th November 1778 in Pressburg (part of modern Bratislava). He became a pupil of Mozart when he was ten, and toured Europe, earning international fame. After four years, he decided to retire from performing, devoting himself to the study of composition. He was employed by the Esterhazy family at Eisenstadt as Konzertmeister, writing sacred music, occasional music and operas, but became more interested in writing minuets and waltzes for Vienna's fashionable ballrooms. He moved there in 1811 to teach, compose and raise a family. He was appointed Kappelmeister at Weimar in 1818.
His elegantly designed melodies anticipated the complexities and emotions of the Romantic composers to come after him, making his piano works interesting examples of 19th century music. He also composed many vocal and choral pieces, a result of the demands of his court employment. He is best known for the Piano Concertos in A minor, Op.85, and in B minor, Op.89
After several years of popularity, he was eclipsed in 1831 by Liszt and Paganini, whose superb virtuosity lured the public away from Hummel's more restrained music. He died in 1837 regarded by many as a relic, but he had resisted the temptation to affect the style of the new generation of composers, and retained the admiration of true music lovers.
MIIDI FILE - From Piano Sonata op.81: Allegro (7'56'')
MIDI FILE - Piano Fantasia op.18 (24'41'')