Trumpet Concerto : Work information

(Franz) Joseph Haydn ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Guy Touvron (Trumpet), Camerata de Versailles, Amaury du Closel (Conductor)

This work

Work name
Trumpet Concerto
Work number
H. VIIe:1
E flat major
1796-00-00 02:00:00

This recording

Forlane CI
Ivan Pastor
Jean-Martial Golaz
Recording date
1987-01-01 00:00:00

Track listing

  • Andante 4:23 min


By 1796, Haydn's friend Anton Weidinger had, for some years, been developing a fully chromatic trumpet that would allow a performer to play all the notes of the scale without requiring the insertion of different lengths of tubing to change the fundamental note. Aware of his friend's activities, Haydn composed his famous Trumpet Concerto to showcase the new instrument.

When Weidinger was ready to perform the work in public, the following announcement appeared in the Wiener Zeitung of 22 March 1800:

"....His intention on this occasion is to present to the world for the first time, so that it may be judged, an organised trumpet which he has invented and brought - after seven years of hard and expensive labour - to what he believes may be described as perfection: it contains several keys (Klappen) and will be displayed in a concerto specially written for this instrument by Herr Joseph Haydn, Doctor of Music....Which concert Anton Weidinger, Imperial Royal Court and Theatre trumpeter, has the honour herewith to announce."

The first performance thus took place on 28 March 1800 in the Vienna Burgtheater.

In the event, of course, the keyed trumpet did not catch on, and it was not until 1814 that the development of the valved trumpet marked the beginning of the end for the old natural trumpets. Nevertheless, the audience at the first performance of Haydn's work must have been astonished to hear such melodic playing, especially in the lower registers heard in the Andante. It is the final Rondo, however, with its virtuosic display of agility that best demonstrated the potential of Weidinger's instrument.

The Composers

(Franz) Joseph Haydn

Joseph Haydn, the most celebrated composer of his time, excelled in every genre and, along with Mozart and Beethoven, represents the high point of Viennese Classicism. His long career began amid the patronage of the late Baroque and concluded as the early flowerings of Romanticism began to sweep across Europe.

Born on 31 March 1732, the son of a master wheelwright and brother to two fellow professional musicians, Haydn's musical talents were recognised early. In 1739/40 he became a choirboy at the Stephansdom in Vienna and was given a musical education.

But for his father's refusal of consent, Haydn might have been made a castrato. In the event, his voice matured and in his 18th year he was compelled to leave. For eight tough years, Haydn was a freelance musician and teacher, composing in the evenings and learning as much as possible from Porpora and Metastasio.

In 1757, he gained his first regular appointment, as director of music for Count Morzin, and began to write his first symphonies. He also married, wedding Maria Keller on 26 November 1760 in an unhappy relationship that resulted in infidelities on both sides.

In 1761, Haydn was recruited as Vice-Kappellmeister to the Esterházy family and worked steadily to enlarge the orchestra. His treatment was generous, especially after Paul Anton was succeeded by Nicolaus Esterházy, and his status was more that of a professional employee than servant.

Haydn's compositional output for the court was largely instrumental in the 1760s and, apart from symphonies and concertos, included baryton trios for the Prince to play. On 3 March 1766, however, Kappellmeister Gregor Joseph Werner died and Haydn now inherited responsibilities for church music as well.

The summers were now spent at Nicolaus's new castle Esterháza, where a steadily increasing number of operas were staged. By 1778 the court was spending ten months of the year there and a regular opera season had been established. Between 1777 and 1783, Haydn wrote almost one new opera each year in addition to revising and altering new operas acquired from Vienna.

After 1783, Haydn wrote no new operas, devoting himself instead to the composition of instrumental music for publication. A new contract in 1779 had removed a clause of exclusivity, enabling Haydn's works to be heard outside the court. His first works appeared in print in Vienna in 1780 and Haydn also began to market his music in other countries.

Prestigious foreign commissions, such as those for the Paris Symphonies and Seven Last Words, were spreading Haydn's fame. In addition, he was no longer isolated at Esterháza, spending much of his time in Vienna where he had many friends and patrons. The strength of Haydn's friendship with Mozart remains uncertain, though the mutual admiration of each other's abilities is clear.

When Nicolaus Esterházy was succeeded by his son, Anton, the musical establishment was dissolved, allowing Haydn, on reduced salary, to move to Vienna. He immediately received invitation to travel to London, where he composed twelve symphonies for the promoter Salomon over the course of two trips in 1791-2 and 1794-5.

The London visits were the highpoint of Haydn's career and were particularly lucrative financially. When Anton was succeeded by Nicolaus II, Haydn was reappointed as Kappellmeister and returned to Vienna. His duties were primarily concerned with sacred vocal music and he wrote a number of masses and oratorios, including The Creation and The Seasons.

Haydn had suffered a serious illness in 1800-1 and, after completing his last major work in 1802, underwent a period of physical decline marked by a steady stream of honours, including an honorary citizenship of Vienna. The French bombardment of Vienna on 11-12 May 1809 hastened his end, though Napoleon stationed a guard of honour outside his house, and he died on 31 May.   

Haydn is colloquially known as the 'Father of the Symphony' and of his 100 or so examples, around thirty are regularly performed. He also practically invented the String Quartet as a genre for serious compositional thought and composed a huge amount of important vocal music.

Related Composers: Mozart, BoccheriniBeethoven