Sackbutts and Krauts

The Germans/ Austrians had a more lasting relationship with the sackbutt and its child, the trombone, than the British, French or Italians. When Handel wanted trombones for Israel in Egypt, it’s thought that he employed a group of touring German Pausane players.  St Mark’s in Venice, whose heyday was perhaps the time of Gabrieli, Monteverdi and large numbers of cornets and sackbutts, stopped employing trombonists in 1732.  Germany, on the other hand, liked her brass, not just keeping the trombone in circulation, but inventing new instruments or preserving older weird ones.  Bach used a high trumpet for the second Brandenburg (the trumpeter of the Bach Collegium Japan recreated it, with appalling effects) and the ‘lituo’ in his lovely O Jesu Christ, mein Lebens Licht.  (No one seems to be sure what the ‘lituo’ was, but it’s some sort of horn.)

Long after Britain had to rely on wandering German trombonists and Italy had stopped its abundance of brass, Mozart used a trombone to be the Last Trumpet in ‘Tuba mirum spargens’ in his Requiem.



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