Category Archives: Quotes

Hector Berlioz on the Trombone

“In my opinion the trombone is the true head of that family of wind instruments which I have named the epic one.  It possesses nobility and grandeur to the highest degree;  it has all the serious and powerful tones of sublime musical poetry, from religious, calm and imposing accents to savage, orgiastic outbursts.  Directed by the will of a master, the trombones can chant like a choir of priests, threaten, utter gloomy sighs, a mournful lament or a bright hymn of glory, they can break forth into awe-inspiring cries and awaken the dead or doom the living with their fearful voices.”

“Nevertheless, ways were found some thirty years ago to degrade this instrument by limiting its use to the worthless and ridiculous doubling of the double-bass part.  Fortunately, this method has now been almost completely abandoned; but in many otherwise beautiful scores one can still find the basses almost continuously doubled in unison by a single trombone. I know nothing less harmonious or more vulgar than this manner of instrumentation.  The tone of the trombone is so characteristic that is should never be used except for special effects.  It cannot be its function merely to reinforce the double-basses, with whose timbre, moreover, it has no sympathy whatever.”