Beethoven 9th Symphony - Alto or Tenor

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Beethoven 9th Symphony - Alto or Tenor

Post by MrHCinDE » Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:12 pm

The background is I‘ve signed up to play Beethoven‘s 9th symphony in October on the alto part. I‘ve got limited time for practice, music’s a hobby, work is very busy at the moment. I’m deciding should I invest my time in solidifying my upper register on tenor or (re-)learning alto. Access to an alto trombone is no problem.

Which factors should I consider?

I‘m thinking most important are intonation and balance. At the moment I‘m tending towards focussing my efforts on tenor as I‘d be much more familiar with the instrument, intonation would almost certainly be better than on alto and balance can be quite easily adjusted. I reckon I‘ve got time for about 20 practice hours before the first rehearsal.
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Re: Beethoven 9th Symphony - Alto or Tenor

Post by BGuttman » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:59 pm

When we did it our 1st player rented an alto. But this was 30 years ago and altos weren't as popular or common as they are now. He had been planning to use his King 3B but it got stolen (boo!).

I know the 1st part can be played by a good tenor player on tenor.

Issue is when the 1st trombone is doubling the altos. That's when a real alto trombone can be a godsend. You can support rather than bury them.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
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Re: Beethoven 9th Symphony - Alto or Tenor

Post by AndrewMeronek » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:38 pm

I'd make the alto work, but if there isn't enough time, I'd go with a small bore tenor. Remember that the German writing from this period assumed 3 different timbres from the trombone section, and this was an intended tool for blending between trombones and other sections.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
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Re: Beethoven 9th Symphony - Alto or Tenor

Post by RustBeltBass » Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:27 pm

There are certain pieces in which an argument could be made for both instruments, (Brahms, Schumann).
Beethoven 9 is not one of those, go with Alto.
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