God Save the King! The Trombone in Coronations throughout History
The trombone has long been associated with special occasions, including water processions, parades of various types, weddings, various religious celebrations, and coronations. Historically, trombones were for centuries employed by kings, queens, and other nobility at various European courts. The trombone also has a long history as a religious instrument; the earliest coronation below, the coronation of a pope, is an example of the use of the trombone in religious settings. The coronations span nearly the full history of the trombone, which began in the 15th century.
For additional context and full citation of references, see Trombone History Timeline.
c. 1503—Siena, Italy: Bernardino Pinturicchio includes a depiction of a trombonist in his painting, Coronation of Pius III, a fresco decorating the exterior of the Piccolomini Library in the cathedral of Siena. The trombonist is part of a trio of wind players seen performing at center-right (see detail and full image below; public domain) (Jenkens 159; Cecchi 19). Documents have shown that trombone did, indeed, perform at this particular coronation (see below).
1503—Rome, Italy: At the coronation of Pope Pius III, the Te Deum is sung antiphonally, with responses accompanied by “one cornett and three contorted trumpets, which are commonly called trombones” (“tibia una et tribus tubis contortis quos trombones vulgo appellant”) (Herbert, Trombone 101).
1509—London, England: 4 Sakbudds and shalmes (sackbuts and shawms) perform at the coronation of Henry VIII (Whitwell, Renaissance 15).
1515—France: At the coronation of King Francis, music is provided by a band of shawms and sackbuts (sacqueboutes) (Whitwell, Renaissance 66).
1533—London, England: At Anne Boleyn’s coronation celebration, an elaborate water procession on the river Thames, includes the Mayor’s barge, which carries “Shalmes, Shagbushes [sackbuts] & divers other instruments, whiche continually made goodly armony” (Stevens, Music & Poetry 240; Whitwell, Renaissance 24).
1559—London, England: Music at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth includes a consort of 6 Shackebuttes (sackbuts) (Bray 270).
1604—Mainz, Germany: A Te Deum is performed in celebration of a coronation. Alternating verses are played by the civic wind band of cornetts and trombones and a trumpet and timpani ensemble (Whitwell, Baroque 206).
1654—Paris, France: Records of the coronation of Louis XIV at the cathedral of Reims describe a procession that includes wind and percussion instruments: “The king was escorted to the cathedral…preceded by a dozen trumpeters, drummers, fife-players, oboists, flutists, bagpipers and trombonists, all dressed in white taffeta” (Bowles, Musical Ensembles 281). Jean Le Pautre’s engraving depicting the coronation, titled La Pompeuse et Magnifique Cérémonie du sacre de Louis XIV, shows a wind band of 12 players, at least one of whom is playing trombone (see detail below; public domain image) (Hindley 221).
1661—London, England: Matthew Locke (c. 1621-1677) composes Music for his Majesty’s Sagbutts and Cornetts, probably for the coronation of Charles II. It is a collection of pieces for three trombones and two cornetts (Herbert, Sackbut 79; Collver 58) (below image from Kinsky 199; public domain).
1761—London, England: The Royal Magazine or Gentleman’s Monthly Companion prints “A Succinct Account of the Coronation of their most Excellent Majesties King George III and Queen Charlotte, on Tuesday the 22d of September 1761.” The detailed description of the procession leading from Westminster Hall to the Abbey includes 2 Sackbuts situated on either side of “A double Courtal” (Succinct Account 109-110).
1821—London, England: Multiple trombones, including alto trombone, perform as members of a wind band, sometimes known as the Prince's Regent's Band, at the coronation of George IV. The band plays at both Westminster Abbey and at the subsequent banquet (Carse, Prince Regent's Band).
1911—London, England: 3 trombones are included in the orchestra performing for the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in Westminster Abbey (Musical Times, 1 July 1911).
More Trombone History Hubs
- Trombone Names Throughout History
The trombone, an instrument that originated in the 15th century, has a long history of colorful names. What other single instrument can boast nomenclature as interesting and varied as sagbot, shagbolt,...
- Females in Trombone History, 1500-1900
The idea that females did not become serious trombone players until the 20th century is a misconception. While many of the visual images shown below are symbolic (e.g., depictions of muses and angels), there...
- Trombone History in Latin America, 1500-1750
Latin America normally gets only a few pages, at the most, in the standard histories of the trombone. It probably deserves more. Records document a significant amount of trombone activity in colonial Latin...
- Christmas Bells Are Ringing: The Trombone and Christmas throughout History
It's early September as I write this, but one of my children recently put up her Christmas list on the fridge. It's never too early, I suppose! Which got me thinking... As I mentioned in another article,...
- Trombone History: Cherubs Playing the Trombone
In visual art, a cherub, or more strictly speaking, a putto, is an infant or toddler, almost always male and with wings, found especially in Baroque art. So what are they doing playing trombone? The main...
- Angel Trombonists Throughout History: 41 Images
"What do the angels, those heavenly and most perfect musicanti, play other than these? For if we encounter something about music in the Scriptures, we hear either of a trumpet or a trombone (Kuhnau, 28). ...
- Trombone History: The Trombone in Parades, 15th and 16th Centuries
76 trombones led the big parade! When Meredith Willson penned those lyrics in 1957 for the Broadway musical The Music Man, the author was unwittingly reflecting not just a recent local tradition, but nearly...
- Trombone History: The Trombone in Parades, 17th-19th Centuries
This is the second of a two-part series on the history of the trombone in processions. For the first hub, see here. The trend in the three centuries represented below is a general movement from royal and...
- Sound Qualities of the Early Trombone: 20 Primary Sources
A few years ago I applied for funding to purchase a set of sackbuts, or early trombones, for my university. I decided at the time to do some research, in the form of both recordings and primary sources, into...
- Super Slides: Trombones with Extension Handles
Before bass trombones had valves to access extra tubing for lower notes, players were forced to use extra-long slides if they wanted to extend the lower register. These slides were long enough that extension...
- How to Hold a Sackbut: The Grip of the Early Trombone in Pictures
Occasionally there is discussion about how the sackbut, or early trombone, should be held. Among other differences, in contrast to the modern trombone, the stays on these early trombones are flat, so the...
- Trombone History: A Mischievous Trombonist in Renaissance Italy
Siena, Italy, ca. 1572, from Civitates Orbis Terrarum Sixteenth-century, Siena, Italy, boasted a first-rate musical establishment in both its Palace wind band and its cathedral musical establishment,...
- Trombone History: Trombones in Water Processions
A brief history of the trombone in water processions. Trombone history in the late Renaissance and Early Baroque.
More by this Author
A collection of 93 pictures of trombone-playing angels from the 15th century to the 19th century
A history of the trombone in Christmas.
Strictly speaking, it would be presumptuous to say these are the "best" brass quintets; however, it is possible to at least compile a list of good, standard repertoire for the genre. This is a list of standard...
No comments yet.