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Top 40 Trombone Quartets
This list is essentially a compilation of the staples of the trombone quartet repertoire. It is not comprehensive by any means, but I hope it provides a useful starting point for players wishing to get a feel for the standard repertoire and experience some of the best music written for trombone quartet.
I purposely included more original works on the list than transcriptions and arrangements because I feel that original works are generally more important in terms of the core repertoire of an instrument or ensemble. The Beethoven 3 Equali are usually seen as the crown jewel of the trombone quartet literature. Written in a traditional German chorale style that reflects the trombone's early history as a church instrument, they were performed by a trombone quartet at Beethoven's funeral and retroactively set with text for vocal performance. People are sometimes surprised at the depth and variety of the trombone quartet repertoire: everything from Baroque works with basso continuo accompaniment to excellent jazz arrangements is available. I have also included on the list a few works that are not pure quartets, but involve "extras," like quartet plus vocalist or quartet plus orchestra.
I would also point out that there are many excellent trombone quartet pieces, both original works and arrangements, that are not included on this list. While the list may provide a point of departure, I heartily recommend branching out and trying new pieces as well. Commissioning new works and growing the repertoire is necessary for every instrument, but particularly for trombone, a sometimes-neglected instrument.
As a starting point for recordings of these works, I would recommend Four of a Kind, a world-class trombone quartet made up of Joseph Alessi, Scott Hartman (my former teacher!), Mark Lawrence, and Blair Bollinger. Several of the pieces are also included on this recording by High Anxiety Bones.
Original Pre 20th-Century Works
Beethoven, Ludwig van. Drei Equali.
Cesare, Giovanni. Canzon for 4 Trombones and Continuo, "La Bavara."
Marini, Biagio. Canzona (Canzon) for 4 Trombones and Continuo, Op. 8/3.
Schütz, Heinrich. "Absalon, Fili Mi" from Symphoniae Sacrae (4 trombones, bass voice, and continuo).
Speer, Daniel. Sonata for 4 Trombones and Continuo.
Original 20th & 21st Century Works
Bassett, Leslie. Quartet for Trombones.
Bourgeois, Derek. Trombone Quartet, Op. 117.
Boutry, Roger. 5 Pieces for Trombone Quartet.
Bozza, Eugene. Trois Pieces.
Defaye, Jean Michel. Quatre Pieces pour Quatour du Trombones.
Dubois, Pierre Max. Quatuor pour Trombone.
Ewazen, Eric. Myths and Legends.
Hornoff, Alfred. Suite for 4 Trombones.
Jacob, Gordon. Suite for 4 Trombones.
Kazik, James. 2002, 3 Movements for 4.
Koetsier, Jan. Concertino for 4 Trombones and Orchestra.
Koetsier, Jan. Five Impromptus.
Nelhybel, Vaclav. 6 Pieces for 4 Trombones.
Peeters, Flor. Suite for 4 Trombones.
Plog, Anthony. Trombone Quartet No. 1, "Densities."
Premru, Raymond. In Memoriam for 4 Trombones.
Premru, Raymond. Tissington Variations for 4 Trombones.
Ross, Walter. Trombone Quartet.
Schnyder, Daniel. Trombone Quartet.
Serocki, Kazimierz. Suite for 4 Trombones.
Tomasi, Henri. Etre ou ne Pas Etre (bass trombone solo plus 3 trombones).
Tull, Fisher. Concert Piece for 4 Trombones.
Jazz & Popular
Carmichael, Hoagy (arr. Hughes). Stardust.
Davis, Michael. August (and others by this composer).
Dubin/Herbert (arr. Elkjer), April Showers (and others by this arranger).
Jobim, Antonio-Carlos (arr. Scharnberg). No More Blues.
Johnson, J. J. (arr. Hampton). Lament.
Monk, Thelonius and Cootie Williams (arr. Hampton). 'Round Midnight.
Traditional, arr. Bill Reichenbach. Scarborough Fair.
Standard "Classical" Arrangements & Transcriptions
Bach, J.S. (arr. Sauer). Fugue in G Minor.
Berlioz, Hector (arr. Ostrander). Excerpts from The Damnation of Faust.
Bruckner, Anton (arr. Sauer). 3 Motets.
Debussy, Claude (arr. Levin). Trois Chansons.
Haydn, Franz Joseph (arr. Miller). "Achieved is a Glorious Work" from The Creation.
Saint-Saens, Camille (arr. Murley). "Adagio" from Symphony No. 3.