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Living roughly during the same period as Beethoven, Johann Nepomuk Hummel occupied an intriguing niche in the pantheon of the great.
A piano prodigy, he studied for a time with Mozart—who thought highly of his talent—and then became a touring child performer who visited nearly as many European courts as Mozart had in his legendary youth.
He was sometimes viewed by Beethoven as a rival although the two had reconciled by Beethoven's death in Hummel was one of the greatest pianists of his day, a brilliant improviser, and perhaps the finest piano pedagogue of the early 19th century, with a piano method still in use today. As a composer, his music sums up the aesthetic principles of late Classicism without attaining the heights of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. While he wrote prolifically for his own instrument, Hummel is best known today for his only trumpet concerto, composed in for Anton Weidinger, the virtuoso of the newly invented keyed trumpet.
Seven years earlier, Haydn also wrote a concerto for Weidinger; today both the Hummel and Haydn concertos are mainstays of any trumpet virtuoso's repertoire. At the end of the 18th century, the trumpet was undergoing a series of refinements to allow it to play all pitches, not just those in its natural harmonic series. First, keys — like those on a clarinet — were added to enable trumpeters to play a full chromatic scale. By , the more reliable system of valves we use today was introduced.
Hummel exploited the capabilities of Weidinger's keyed trumpet, especially in the concerto's second movement: an aria over a triplet-rhythm accompaniment in which the trumpet displays its newfound ability to sing a melody as compellingly as any soprano — delighting in the expressive half-steps now at its command. The lengthy sonata-form opening movement emphasizes brilliant fanfare writing, while the fast-tempo rondo finale revolves around a jaunty, off-to-the-races trumpet theme.
Notes by Janet E. Bedell copyright One fine body….
Trumpet Concerto in E major, S.49 (Hummel, Johann Nepomuk)
There are places, primarily in the second movement, where Weidinger is believed to have changed the music because of the execution of the instrument. It is unknown whether this was in agreement with Hummel. Originally this piece was written in E major. The work is composed in three movements typical of a concerto and they are marked as follows:.