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Stanley Friedman — Trumpet Sonata No. 2 in F minor (“Romantic”)


In response to trumpeter Markus Würsch’s insightful suggestion, I composed Trumpet Sonata No. 2 in F minor (“Romantic”) to address a noticeable void in solo trumpet repertoire from the Romantic Era. While trumpets were prominently featured in symphonic and operatic works of the time, major composers had overlooked solo compositions for this instrument. The existing repertoire comprised pieces by minor composers and salon-style variations for cornet. However, these lacked the formal complexity and harmonic exploration characteristic of major 19th-Century compositions.

The first movement, Allegro non troppo, follows the Sonata-Allegro form, featuring a rhythmic F minor motive as a ritornello. Transition material in the piano gains significance, setting the tone for subsequent movements. The second movement, Lento, in B-flat major, adopts an ABA form. A triplet figure recalls the transition material from Movement I. The third movement, a Rondo with Sonata-Rondo elements, revisits F minor. It introduces a principal Rondo theme based on the triplet motive and explores diverse keys, employing a fugal true development.

The composition unfolds with a dynamic interplay of themes and motifs across movements. Movement I showcases contrasting A and B themes, while Movement II explores themes in B-flat major. Movement III introduces a playful C theme and embarks on a fugal development with chromatic explorations. The Recapitulation revisits themes in closely related keys, leading to a concluding coda in F major.

My Romantic Sonata provides trumpeters with significant artistic freedom, allowing for diverse interpretations in tone color, dynamics, rubato phrasing, and tempo. Despite its substantial duration of twenty-one minutes, the work presents manageable range and technical demands, offering both advanced young players and experienced virtuosi an accessible yet challenging piece. This composition, a departure from my previous works, surprises those familiar with my modern compositions, revealing a lyrical and harmonically rich facet without compromising the progress of my ongoing commitment to building a substantive body of trumpet repertoire.

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International Journal of Music

Sonata No. 2 in F-minor (Romantic) was composed at the suggestion of trumpeter Markus Würsch to fill a long-standing gap in trumpet recital repertoire. Despite the often conspicuous use of trumpets in symphonic and operatic works, no Romantic Era composer of significance composed solo music for trumpet. There are a few notable works by minor composers as well as a wealth of delightful salon pieces, often in theme and variation form, mostly for cornet and composed by the cornet virtuosi themselves. However, none of these works make use of the expanded formal structures and harmonic explorations favored by those 19th-Century composers now commonly regarded as major.

Movement I

Movement I (Allegro non troppo) is in Sonata-Allegro form and begins with a rhythmic, aggressive F minor motive that functions as a ritornello:

Transition material in the piano assumes greater importance in subsequent movements:

The first true [A] Theme is lyrical and more expansive:

In contrast, the [B] Theme, also quite lyrical, initially appears in the concert key of G-flat major (Neapolitan):

The turbulent Exposition cadences in E-flat minor (the relative minor of the B Theme) but transitions into a calmer Ab major (mediant) version of A Theme to begin the Development:

But the ritornello motive initiates a series of modulations from F major (parallel major) to the very foreign key of B minor:

Following this, the rapidly modulating ritornello transitions to the home key of F minor for the Recapitulation, now with B Theme in the major mediant:

A version of the ritornello motive (in the dominant) sets up the Coda and final resolution in F minor:

Movement II

Movement II (Lento), in B-flat major, is in ABA form. The first main theme is stated simply:

The triplet figure in piano recalls transition material form Mvt. I:

The B section (in the subdominant) features a more flowing melody in a quicker tempo:

The triplet motive is further developed and assumes greater importance (here stated in the relative minor):

Before the true return of A’, the A Theme is briefly stated by the piano in the subdominant:

Movement III

Movement III (Rondo, more properly a Sonata-Rondo) returns to the original key of F minor. The principal Rondo theme is based on the triplet motive established in the previous movements:

The rustic B Theme is in the parallel key F major:

Following a playful semi-development of the F minor A Theme, a jovial C Theme is introduced in the major mediant Ab (modulating back to the minor tonic):

Modulating to the minor dominant Bb, the A Theme returns, beginning a fugal true Development:

The secondary subject of the fugue features motives derived from themes B and C:

The fugal Development features chromatic explorations of various foreign keys, with false Recapitulation/return of A Theme. In the true Recapitulation, both the B and C themes are revisited in F major and Ab major, keys closely related to the original F minor, with more chromatic development of the primary motives. After brief forays into various foreign keys the Coda concludes in the parallel key of F major:


My Romantic Sonata allows a great deal of freedom in terms of tone color, dynamic shading, rubato phrasing, tempo, etc. At twenty-one minutes’ duration, the work represents quite an investment of trumpeters’ energy, stamina and concentration. However, the range and technical demands are relatively modest, and there are plenty of rests. Advanced young players will find the work approachable, while experienced virtuosi will discover that their expressive, interpretive skills will be pushed to new horizons.

Trumpeters who know my modern compositions Solus for unaccompanied trumpet, Sonata for Trumpet & Piano (1995) and La Pittura for solo trumpet & brass quintet (all published by Editions BIM) may be quite surprised by my Romantic Sonata’s lyricism and lush, tonal harmonies. But this new work is not at all a step backwards. Rather, it is a continuation of my life-long commitment to building a body of trumpet repertoire with depth and substance.

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