Johann Nepomuk Hummel: Trumpet Concerto in E-flat Major

Line drawing of Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto was originally written in E major, but is most often performed in E♭ major, which makes the fingering less difficult for modern performers using E♭ and B♭ trumpets. Hummel was an Austrian composer and virtuoso pianist who bridged the classical and romantic eras. He was born in Pressburg (now Bratislava), Hungary and, like Mozart, was a child prodigy. He even studied with Mozart in Vienna before embarking upon European tours. Unlike Mozart, however, Hummel was more commercially successful, and he succeeded Haydn as Kappelmeister in Prince Esterházy’s court in Eisenstadt.

Like Haydn, Hummel wrote a Trumpet Concerto for the Viennese trumpet virtuoso and inventor of the keyed trumpet, Anton Weidinger. The first performance, by Weidinger on New Year’s Day 1804, commemorated Hummel’s entrance, as Haydn’s successor, into the Esterházy court orchestra. The first movement is in sonata form with an energetic first subject and a more playful second theme. The brief second movement has some attractive solos for the woodwinds, but unfortunately for the strings, is placed in the very difficult key of C minor (seven flats!). The Finale is a cheerful and vigourous rondo with considerable technical demands for the soloist, especially in the trills and flourishes following the central minor section, before the work ends in triumph.