Although the Concerto for Alto Trombone and Strings by Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (1736-
1809) is an example of Viennese Classicism, one does not normally associate this style of music,
which dominated Austria's capital from 1770 until 1830, with the trombone!
Albrechtsberger was born near Vienna and spent his early years as a choirboy and organist. He
soon gained the position of court organist for Emperor Joseph II with the additional position of
choirmaster of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. During this tenure, he earned the reputation of
being one of the best organists in the world and was a much sought-after teacher. He was a contemporary
of Mozart, who considered his playing the standard by which other organists were to be
measured. Haydn considered him as the best teacher of composition among the Viennese masters
and sent Beethoven to study with him. Although he is today primarily remembered as Beethoven's
teacher and a great organist, he wrote over 700 compositions, including church compositions, keyboard
works, pieces for other instruments, and symphonies.
The Concerto for Alto Trombone gives an unusually virtuosic role to an instrument that, at that
time, was typically assigned to religious, supernatural or royal roles in the classical orchestra. Unlike
the rest of Albrechtsberger's music, this piece only came to light around 40 years ago.