2 Leopold Mozart Concerto for Alto Trombone (1756)


Durata 13 min__Rec_ BIS-CD-638__Publ: Edition Tarrodi__Lindberg Performances: 456

Leopold Mozart 1719-1787

At the beginning of the 1960s the classical trombone concerto was a
completely unknown entity in the established musical life of Europe. So when
Nicolas Harnoncourt released a recording of the incomplete concerto by Georg
Christoph Wagenseil this was considered quite a sensation. At the time this
trombone concerto was considered a one-off rarity. A couple of years later,
a trombone concerto by Beethoven´s teacher Albrechtsberger was discovered
but, because of the virtuosity of the solo part and the difficult trills,
musicologists concluded that it could not actually have been written for the
trombone. They assumed that it was really intended for the French horn. If,
during the 1960s, scholars had been aware of the existence in the late 18th
century of a great master of the alto trombone, the Austrian musician Thomas
Gschladt, they might have drawn different conclusions. Gschladt was a
colleague of the famous French horn player Joseph Leutgeb for whom all of
Mozart´s horn concertos were written.

Research and work on the reconstruction of the scores of Mozarts horn
concertos has constantly revised our understanding of these works throughout
the years since Mozart died. Unfortunately, the facts about the trombone
concertos presented on this CD, probably all written for Gschladt, have been
hidden for so long that there are even more question marks surrounding these
pieces. With help from various sources including such experts as Kurt
Janetzky, Mary Rasmussen, Richard Raum, Ken Shifrin, Randy Kohlenberg and
Stephen Anderson, I have been trying to lay the jigsaw puzzle that confronts
us regarding these pieces. I have now succeeded in making editions of these
four highly virtuosic concertos for the alto trombone which bear witness to
a golden period for the instrument between 1756 and 1780.

 Gschladt´s relations with the Mozart family were very warm. At the 1756
audition for the position in Salzburg, Leopold was apparently one of the
jury members, at the side of Kapellmeister Eberlin and the Concertmeister
Ferdinand Seidel. Gschladt had to play not only trombone, but his
audition also required him to play the violin and the French horn.
Gschladt´s salary was initially 8 florins and 20 kreutzer monthly. The court
composers Eberlin and Adlgasser soon found out what a fine musician he was
and trombone solos started to appear in the oratorios and serenades. Thanks
to this his salary was raised significantly, being almost doubled to 15
florins and 40 kreutzer a month in June 1767.

Leopold Mozart took advantage of this remarkable trombonist
right after the audition in 1756. He was just working on a serenade. (This
is the only extant serenade by Leopold though according to letters he wrote
around 30 such works!). It included two movements for Gschladt´s colleague,
the trumpet player Johann Köstler (these two movements were dated 1755 and
were later issued as a trumpet concerto). On hearing Thomas Gschladt´s
fabulous audition he wrote these three wonderful movements for trombone late
in 1756. As far as we know they were not published as a concerto in Leopold
Mozart´s lifetime but, as you can hear, they make a beautiful concerto for
the trombone in the context presented on this CD , just as do the three
movements by Michael Haydn (tracks 1-3). An interesting note in the score of
the Leopold Mozart Serenade states that Mozart admired Gschladt so much that
he  wanted only him to play it. If he was not available, Mozart preferred
these movements to be played on the viola!

Thomas Gschladt probably made the biggest mistake in his life by leaving
Salzburg for Olmütz in 1769. In Salzburg he was surrounded by fantastic
composers who all admired him. And in 1767, at the height of his career, the
young Mozart wrote a great solo for him, the 10-minute aria "Jener
Donnerworte Kraft" for tenor voice and solo trombone. Had he stayed, or like
Leutgeb, followed Mozart to Vienna, we would no doubt have had one or two
trombone concertos by Mozart. He was considered a far greater musician than
Leutgeb, better paid and also more respected by the Mozart family. Yet the
eagerness of Leutgeb gave the French horn 4 masterpieces by Mozart. If
Gschladt had shown half the enthusiasm of Leutgeb he would probably have
persuaded Mozart to do the same for him and the trombone would have had a
quite different history as a solo instrument. Gschladt´s time in Olmütz as
Thurnemeister was obviously not a happy period of his life. Only months
after his arrival he got into a dispute with Anton Neumann, Kapellmeister of
the Olomouc Cathedral about the quality of the musicians. This ended in a
declaration by Gschladt in July 1770 that he would never again play in the
church. However on 9th October 1777 he broke his promise and it is on this
occasion, in the opinion of Ken Shifrin, that the Wagenseil concerto was

On March 20 1803 after having previously been denied a civic pension (79
years old!) Gschladt reapplied to the city magistrate with a document that
gave a detailed account of his finances. His total assets came to 1200
florins of which no doubt 1000 was from the sale of his equipment to Joseph
Kunert, who was successful in his application for the post of Thurnemeister
in 1802. Whether or not "Thomerl" who lived for almost three more years,
ever received a pension is not known. But what we do know is that the pieces
presented on this CD would never have existed if it had not been for this
phenomenal musician!

We trombonists of the 21st century would certainly like to believe that he
was granted his humble request for a pension, as he almost certainly did
more for the trombone than anyone had done before him.

Christian Lindberg