Trombone Quintet

Genre: Chamber

Mood: Cheerful

Forces: String quartet, Trombone

Length: 18 Minutes


Trombone Quintet (1987) – A piece for trombone and string quartet, 18’.

Commissioned by Louise Vorster Versteeg.

Note: The score being full of mistakes, it is not downloadable below.

Sheet Music

Watermarked (Free)

Not available



Printed Copies




Programme notes

F L Dunkin Wedd writes:

Louise Vorster and I played string quartets together; as well as playing the cello, she had recently taken up the trombone. When she heard that I wrote music, she said 'Ah! You must write me a piece for trombone and string quartet!'. And so I did.

This was my first full-length score, and it is full of mistakes - errors in harmony, in music writing, in balance, indeed, all the student errors you might expect.

However, it also contains many hallmarks of my writing - tributes to Haydn, jazz influences, rhythmic fun, humour - so rather like a first child, albeit a rather clumsy one, it retains a place in my affection.

It opens as a Haydn string quartet might, or perhaps a concerto, the quartet expectantly awaiting the trombone entry. But the trombone comes in too soon, so the strings drown it out with a loud chord (a Haydnesque joke - of course they couldn't). The strings start another subject - and again the trombone comes in too soon, to be drowned by another chord.

The strings start again, but this time the trombone - twice bit and very shy - doesn't come in where it should; the cello has to play its line to encourage it. When it does come in, however, it says 'I'll show you!' and plays the phrase with a different and triumphant ending.

The movement explores the subjects introduced in the first few bars, there is an idiomatic trombone cadenza, which may be extended by the player at will, the first theme returns, interrupted by the second, and we end on a triumphant climax.

The second movement is imbued with grief. But this is not the spirit of the piece, so it closes abruptly, lasting under 2 minutes. It is followed by what is called a minuet and trio; the 'minuet' is a light-hearted sort of waltz movement, while the 'trio' is a 12-bar blues, reflecting the trombone's moonlighting role in jazz bands. The quartet have fun with this.

The last movement is a fast rondo, opening with rapid trombone passages against pizzicato strings. Then, the quartet play a headachey fugueish: the trombone stops them ('you're being too intellectual, strings!') with what might be an advertising jingle. The quartet go into a waltz, there's another 12-bar blues, and the initial theme returns, even more frenetic.