Trumpet Choir

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Trumpet Choirs
Intangible cultural heritage Intangible cultural heritage emblem

Evening serenade in Plau.jpg
Evening serenade at the 37th State Trombone Festival MV in Plau am See
State (s): GermanyGermany Germany
List: National list
Admission: 2016

A trombone choir is originally a body of trombones . Corresponding to the historical choir term , these can be single, or, according to the modern choir term, several times. In a broader sense, a mixed brass ensemble is also called a trombone choir. Today some trombone choirs also include woodwinds and can often hardly be distinguished from symphonic wind orchestras . The label trumpet choir then loses its original meaning and only refers to the integration into a - mostly Protestant - church community.

In December 2016, the German Commission for UNESCO included trombone choirs in the nationwide directory of intangible cultural heritage .

Renaissance and Baroque

Tines and Trumpets 1623
Trumpet Choir 1518

As early as the early 16th century, trombone ensembles were documented on image sources. Around 1500 the trombonist Giovanni Aloixe wrote in letters about the establishment of motets for wind instruments. He reports on the combination of five trumpets and the combination of four trumpets with two cornets and four trumpets with four shawms. In 1618 Michael Praetorius describes a “trombone choir” in his Syntagma musicum . He mentions a legacy or Diskantposaune in D, the Common right trumpet shall in A, the fourth trombone in E or D and a Oktavposaune in A. He is cast during the interaction with voices , bassoon , teeth , strings and recorders . The choral trombone playing was practiced almost exclusively by town whistles until 1750 . Friedrich Erhard Niedt remarks in his musical manual in 1721 that the trombone is art-piping, but little else is known.

Trumpets and trombones were separate instrument groups in the Renaissance and Baroque periods, and their connection is only occasionally required (among others with Johann Heinrich Schmelzer and Andreas Hammerschmidt ). The treble of professional trombone ensembles was often performed with a zinc or a recorder. In the trumpet ensemble, the lower register was supplemented by timpani . The volume of the trumpets was viewed critically in the church. Even Luther felt the drums and trumpets as "heavenly field screams" and "hideous shouts of honor for God". Praetorius recommended that the choir and trumpets work together to set up the latter outside the church. In addition to playing the intrades, the narrowly mensored trombones also served to accompany the vocal music. In some cantatas Bach had the choir parts doubled with trombones, for example: B. in Christ was in death gangs, BWV 4 , BWV 38 and BWV 68 . At the Salzburg masses of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart they are intended to support the lower choir voices .

1800 to the present

With the introduction and constant improvement of the valves in brass instrument making, diverse musical associations of amateurs emerged in Europe. In addition to mixed wind orchestras, all brass bands were also played. The trumpets took a back seat due to the trumpets and instruments of the horn family. In Germany, wind instruments were of particular importance in the Protestant church, where the mixed brass ensembles were referred to by the term trombone choir . The English brass bands of the Salvation Army offer a counterpart to the Christian trombone choirs in Germany .

Evangelical trombone choirs in Germany


The modern evangelical trombone choirs have their origins in Pietism . At open-air worship services and tented mission events, trumpet choirs were considered mobile "all-weather organs". The first trumpet choirs were held in the Moravian Brethren in Upper Lusatia in the 18th century . “In the Moravian community diary of April 1, 1731, the use of French horns at a funeral is mentioned for the first time. On June 1, 1731, it is said that guests who had arrived in the evening were welcomed by the congregation with singing and the sound of brand new trumpets. "

  • Five music-loving citizens, cottagers and weavers from the Protestant community of Walddorf bought a “choir of trombones” (treble, alto, tenor and bass trombones) in 1766, learned to blow on their own account and gave the parish's instruments as a gift, “so that the thing itself was to God Honor and glory to the local church ”.
  • In Kittlitz in 1817 the "trombonist choir" gave itself its own 46-point "status of the music choir" in order to "a, glorify the name of God themselves, as well as b encourage others to do so".
  • In 1851 the oldest trombone choir of today's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover was founded in Brockhausen (Bad Essen) .
  • In 1865 the oldest trombone choir in Bavaria was founded in Neuendettelsau .
  • In 1995 the archivist and director of the trombone choirs in the Saxon church district of Löbau , Siegfried Seifert ( retired cantor-deacon), found four handwritten part books with 150 chorales for treble, alto, tenor and bass trombone in the Schönau-Berzdorf archive 1821.

In the course of the awakening movement of the 19th century, trombone choirs in the current sense were founded in East Westphalia ( Minden-Ravensberg ), the oldest being that of von Jöllenbeck in 1843.

History from the beginning of the 20th century

Ev. Trombone Choir Schneverdingen (1925)

The origins in the Moravian Brethren have been preserved to this day. In some local congregations, the trumpet choirs play at every church service or accompany the congregation at the so-called singing hour, which is usually held on Saturday evenings or on certain occasions. In particular, waking up on Easter morning with the wind instruments is very common in the communities. “On April 6, 1738, the Moravian community diary mentions for the first time the participation of wind players in the Easter morning celebration. After waking up at three-thirty, "the procession with trombones and other instruments went out to the Hutberg" to the church. “In addition, the Moravians hold their International Wind Day at irregular intervals, since 1965 every two years. The first winds day of the Moravian Brethren took place on 20. – 22. September 1924 in Gnadenberg in Silesia , the last one in 2017 in Neugnadenfeld (as of 2018).

Pastor Eduard Kuhlo (1822–1891) and his son, the “trumpet general” and trumpet warden Johannes Kuhlo (1856–1941), are considered the “fathers” of the Westphalian trumpet choirs. From Westphalia the trumpet choirs spread throughout Germany. Organizationally, in the first decades they belonged to the Protestant youth associations ( YMCA ), which were united in the "Reich Association of Protestant Young Men 's Associations of Germany".

The aim was to separate it from the military brass bands . Nonetheless, “recognition” as the music of the church took place in part with great resistance from traditional church music . The main goal was initially seen in the popular mission . For decades the trombone choirs were shaped by Kuhlo's ideal of sound, according to which the sound of the wind instruments should come as close as possible to a vocal choir . Therefore horns of all kinds were preferred, while trumpets and trumpets were frowned upon. You could see and hear that in its purest form with the famous Kuhlo Horn sextet. It was not until the post-Kuhlo period (after 1945) that this conception was abandoned under the leadership of Wilhelm Ehmann and influenced by the neo-baroque era .

In addition to the two Kuhlos, the following are particularly noteworthy as pioneers of “trombone work”: August Bernhard Ueberwasser (1866–1925), Hanover, CVJM-Nordbund; Fritz Fliedner (1874–1950), Schleswig-Holstein; Adolf Müller (1876–1957), Saxony; Martin Schlee (1889–1961), Bavaria; Walther Duwe (1895–1992), Westphalia, employee and successor of Kuhlos in Bethel; Fritz Bachmann (1900–1961), Reichsobmann of the VePD and the trumpet work of the EKD; Hermann Mühleisen (1903–1995), Young Men’s Work in Württemberg; Wilhelm Ehmann (1904–1989), Church Music School Herford, theorist and practitioner of wind work; Hans Mrozek (1906–1998), singing and trombone office in the YMCA Reichsverband; and Richard Lörcher (1907–1970), CVJM-Westbund. From the beginnings of the trumpet choir movement in the 19th century until 1933, the trombone choirs were a natural part of the evangelical work of young men. In 1934, under the pressure of the political situation, they were spun off from the young men 's associations and merged to form the "Association of Evangelical Trombone Choirs of Germany" (VePD) (Reichsobmann Fritz Bachmann), which resulted in compulsory membership in the National Socialist Chamber of Music .

Trumpet choir at the inauguration of the Exter motorway church in 1959

After 1945 the trombone work split in organizational terms. In some areas the choirs returned to the YMCA or Jungmännerwerk (Württemberg and YMCA-Westbund under the leadership of Hermann Mühleisen, the chairman of the Reich Advisory Board for Trombone Choirs in the YMCA Reich Association, later: YMCA General Association ). In most of the Protestant regional churches, especially in northern Germany, “Trombone Works” were founded in 1945, which became the umbrella organization “Trombone Works of the EKD”, later “Trombone Works in the EKD”, with Fritz Bachmann as chairman (successors: Hans-Martin Schlemm and Günther Schulz ) merged. There were also independent trombone choir associations (Bavaria, Baden, Palatinate). As a result of the division of Germany, after the Wall was built in 1961, the trombone works in the GDR were organizationally separated from the West German ones.

Only after decades, in 1994, was it possible to found a uniform umbrella organization for all 29 trombone works and associations in reunified Germany, the " Evangelical Trumpet Service in Germany e. V. “(EPiD) with almost 7,000 trombone choirs and around 100,000 wind players. Its chief chairman is Pastor Rolf Bareis.

Spiritual alignment

Trumpet Choir in Barkow (Barkhagen) 2016

The spiritual commission of the trumpet choirs is described with a sentence according to Psalm 150,3a  LUT  - "Praise him with trumpets" -: "Making music to praise God and people for joy". This guiding principle, which has grown out of history, still serves today to distinguish it from the secular wind orchestras with a similar cast.

Trumpet choirs occur predominantly in a church context ( church services , community celebrations) or in diaconal institutions (hospital, old people's home). As a result of the loosening of this demarcation at the end of the 20th century, many trombone choirs also participate in secular events. The trombone choirs carry out a musically broad and cross-generational educational work, often with the participation of professionally trained musicians . In many cases, the direction of the choirs lies with people who have studied church music; however, it is often lay people who have acquired knowledge of conducting a trombone choir through training.

Voices, their instrumentation and sound

Trumpet choir with timpani and organ accompaniment

The C notation of the trombone choir is based on the four-part choir score:

The majority of the trombone choir compositions are still notated in four-part movements, for the historical reasons of the sound pattern derived from the singing choir. Newer literature is much broader in terms of the number of voices; especially in festive movements, the sound of the wind instruments is often supplemented by accompanying instruments such as timpani, other percussion instruments and the organ .

For a long time, influenced by Kuhlo, the tonal ideal corresponded to that of the bow horn family, which was perceived as warm and soft. Kuhlo recommended flugelhorns for soprano and alto, tenor horns or French horns for tenor and trombones and tubas for bass. Wilhelm Ehmann, on the other hand, decidedly turned away from this sound pattern in the period after the Second World War, he found it “busy” and “clumsy”. His ideal cast comprised trumpets in the high register and low trombones, so it was overall more radiant and richer in overtones.

Nowadays, trombone choirs have completely freed themselves from such strict sound concepts or use the instrument families only within compositions to implement certain desired timbres.

The following brass instruments can be found in trombone choirs today, often in a colorful mix:

Most of the instruments used are in the B- flat tuning , as they have the same intonational characteristics. Since scores are blown in sounding notation , trombone choirs train their instrumentalists to play from sounding notation (in C) . The note is referred to by the note name that is being played. Wind players who have learned their instrument according to the basic tuning of their instrument, e.g. B. trumpet in B , horn in F and Altposaunisten in it must, from trombone notes transposed play or learn the sounding notation.

The tubas are an exception : Unless otherwise indicated, they play an octave below the notated bass part in the contra-octave range .

Integrative Kantorei

Wind players from the Kreuznacher Diakonie Kantorei at the Advent music

The trombone choir of the Kreuznacher-Diakonie-Kantorei takes a special path . Around 1990 he merged with singers, strings and woodwinds to form an integrative choir , partly with the support of timpani and guitar. Wind soloists take part in the orchestra in cantatas and solo concerts.

Works and associations

The Evangelical Trumpet Service in Germany (EPiD) brings together 29 German Trumpet Works and Associations. The largest associations (with the number of active members) are:

They are led by full-time state trombone attendants; at the CVJM-Westbund and the Bund Christian Trombone Choirs this position is called “ Federal Trombone Warden ”. The trumpet choirs meet regularly for trumpet days at district or district level and for regional trombone days . The largest event of its kind in terms of numbers is the Württemberg State Trombone Day, which takes place every two years and for which 8,000 to 9,000 wind players gather in Ulm .

In 2008, the “ German Evangelical Trumpet Day” took place in Leipzig from May 30th to June 1st under the motto “Ears glimpse” , the first all-German gathering of wind players in over 50 years. Over 16,000 participants formed the largest trombone choir in the world, which was entered in the Guinness Book of Records .

The 2nd German Evangelical Trumpet Day, which took place in Dresden from June 3rd to 5th, 2016 under the motto "Air to the top", surpassed this record with a total of 17,541 registered wind players.

Salvation Army wind choirs

The Salvation Army's first brass band was founded in Consett in 1879 . As part of the Salvation Army, the brass bands are spread around the world and serve to promote their work. The line-up consists of cornets, flugelhorns, alto horns, tenor horns, euphonies, trombones, tubas and percussion. Trumpets and French horns are uncommon. Except for the bass trombone, all instruments are transposed in the treble clef.

Wind choirs of the Catholic Church

Pure trumpet choirs are less common in the Catholic Church. However, there are numerous mixed wind orchestras under the name of Catholic Church Music (KKM) . In the Diocese of Mainz, more than 3500 wind instruments in 74 orchestras are active in the Diocesan Association of Wind Choirs. The Catholic Church Music takes part in church services and festivals in the parish. The preacher is usually the president of the associations. In large domes, such as Mainz, Berlin and Münster, brass ensembles, some of which are professionally cast, play.

In Veitsbronn in the Fürth district there is not only the Protestant trombone choir but also a Catholic trombone choir, which is also a member of the Association of Protestant Trombone Choirs in Bavaria.


On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Evangelical Trumpet Service in Germany e. V. (EPiD) a special stamp was issued in March 2014 with a value of 2.15 euros (for registered mail). The shadow images of two musicians with trombone and trumpet are shown as motifs.

See also


  • Trumpet Choir. Magazine for wind players . Edited by the Evangelical Trumpet Service in Germany eV; Strube, Munich from 1988; quarterly magazine.
  • Vivace. Official organ of the Association of Swiss Trombone Choirs . VSP, Bern from 2005; monthly journal.
  • Wilhelm Ehmann: The wind primer .
  • Wilhelm Ehmann: The wind playing. In: Leiturgia, Volume 4.
  • Irmgard Eismann, Hans-Ulrich Nonnenmann (ed.): Practice trombone choir. Handbook for wind choir conducting . Buch + Musik, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-86687-000-0 .
  • Karl Honemeyer: The trombone choirs in the service. Rufer-Verlag, Gütersloh 1951.
  • Johannes Kuhlo: Trumpet Questions. 3rd, improved and increased edition of Appendix A to the trumpet beech: establishment and practice of trumpet choirs and material for family evenings . Bethel near Bielefeld 1909 ( digitized version ).
  • Wilhelm Mergenthaler: ... and thanks for his grace ... 100 years of trombone work in Württemberg. Defeat of the Evangelical Youth Office in Württemberg, Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-922813-15-1 .
  • Wolfgang Schnabel: The Protestant trombone choir work. Origin and mission . Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1993, ISBN 3-525-57188-7 .
  • Wolfgang Schnabel: Three great supporters of the evangelical trombone choir movement - Johannes Kuhlo, Adolf Müller, Wilhelm Ehmann . Brockmeyer, Bochum 1994, ISBN 3-8196-0241-0 .
  • Wolfgang Schnabel: History of the Protestant trombone choir movement in Westphalia - origin and development from 1840 to 2000 . In: Contributions to the Westphalian church history. Volume 26, Evangelisches Medienhaus, Bielefeld 2003, ISBN 3-7858-0446-6 .
  • Horst Dietrich Schlemm (Ed.): Contributions to the history of Protestant trombone work (6 volumes). Gütersloher publishing house Gerd Mohn, 1989–2001.
  • Willy Schneider: Handbook of brass music . Extended new version, Schott, Mainz 1986, ISBN 3-7957-2814-2 .
  • Does the oldest trombone choir come from Saxony? In: Trombone Choir Magazine . 1995, issue 4.

Individual evidence

  2. a b The music in the past and present, Volume 1, article brass music.
  3. ^ Michael Praetorius: Syntagma Musicum. Volume 3. P. 159 ff. ( Digitized version ).
  4. Fridrich Erhard Niedt: Musicalische Handleitung, p. 113.
  5. Wilhelm Ehmann: The Bläserspiel. In: Leiturgia, Volume 4.
  6. Michael Praetorius: Syntagma Musicum, Volume 2, p. 137.
  7. ; accessed on July 25, 2020
  8. Michael Praetorius: Syntagma Musicum, Volume 2, p. 170.
  9. Evangelical Trumpet Service in Germany (EPiD): About us
  10. a b c story. In: Retrieved April 19, 2019 .
  11. ^ History of the trombone choir CVJM Jöllenbeck. Welcome. Retrieved June 14, 2017 .
  12. The Moravian Wind Choir. In: Retrieved April 19, 2019 .
  13. a b Wind Choir of the Brothers Neuwied. In: Retrieved April 19, 2019 .
  14. Wilhelm Ehmann: The Bläserfibel
  15. ^ Realities of life - founder and builder: 150th birthday of Rev. D. Hermann Hugo Reich. 100 years parent company in Bad Kreuznach. 100 years of the Kreuznach Diakonie Kantorei. ISBN 3-935516-23-1 .
  16. Position paper on the current status and future tasks of church music in the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland (2006)
  17. 22,429 participants gild Dresden , DEPT February 1, 2016, accessed on June 6, 2016
  18. About us. In: Retrieved April 19, 2019 .
  19. special stamp for the anniversary ,, p.5, accessed on 6 March 2016th

Web links

Commons : Trombone Choirs  - collection of images, videos and audio files