Long-lost trombone concerto revived with a little help from Sibelius

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Bryan Free (courtesy The Herald)

The Herald, a national newspaper in Scotland, this week told the story of former Royal Scottish National Orchestra trombonist Bryan Free’s quest to revive a long-lost trombone concerto by the almost-forgotten composer Nathaniel Shilkret, a 15-year journey that ends tonight with the piece’s UK premiere in Edinburgh.

Bryan worked on restoring the score and parts himself over the course of a decade and a half, and he used Sibelius to do it.

It’s really a fascinating story of how Shilkret’s concerto for trombonist Tommy Dorsey and conductor Leopold Stokowski, which received its premiere in Carnegie Hall in New York in 1945, was lost due to acrimony between composer, conductor and soloist, received only one further performance later in the same year in Hollywood with a different soloist, and was then lost and forgotten for half a century.

If you’d like to know more, Wikipedia has great articles about both the composer and the work, and a few recordings are available, including the one that Bryan calls his favourite, with soloist Jim Pugh playing with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, available on the album X Over Trombone. A YouTube excerpt of the third movement is embedded below.

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