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The Trombone ForumTeaching & LearningHistory of the Trombone(Moderator: bhcordova) George Bernard Shaw on the trombone
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HowardW
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« on: Apr 25, 2016, 06:06AM »

Just a couple days ago, I was asked about my signature (see below). I therefore decided to dig out my collection of trombone texts by George Bernard Shaw to share with the Forum. They are taken from Shaw's Music: The complete musical criticism in three volumes, edited by Dan H. Laurence (London, etc.: The Bodley Head, 1981).

Here is the first. I'll be posting the others at irregular intervals. Enjoy!

from:
Mrs Tanqueray Plays the Piano (The World, 20 December 1893)

"By the way, I am credibly informed that Chelmsford is happy in the possession of an amateur body called The English Ladies' Orchestral Society, in which the wind and percussion instruments are played by ladies as well as the strings. This is good news for ladies with undeveloped lungs. After all, the chief objection to playing wind instruments is that it prolongs the life of the player beyond all reasonable limits. If you want to become phthisis-proof, drink-proof, cholera-proof, and, in short, immortal, play the trombone well and play it constantly. I hope the Chelmsford ladies will visit London and shew how very unneccessary it is for their sex to waste itself on the mandolin."

H
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"If you want to become phthisis-proof, drink-proof, cholera-proof, and in short, immortal, play the trombone well and play it constantly." -- George Bernard Shaw
BillO
A trombone is not measured by it's name.

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« Reply #1 on: Apr 25, 2016, 11:08AM »

Thanks Good!

Looking forward to more...
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Never look at the conductor. You just encourage them.

Have you noticed, some folk never stick around to help tidy up after practice?
HowardW
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« Reply #2 on: Apr 27, 2016, 05:09AM »

from: Some Instruments and How to Play Them (The Star, 8 March 1889)

"Before I hurry away to St James's Hall to hear the Bach Choir and Joachim, I must snatch a moment to reply to the numerous correspondents who have been struck by my recent remarks as to the salutary effects of wind-instrument playing. It is impossible to answer all their questions in detail, but a few general observations will cover most of the cases.

First, then, as to the constantly recurring question whether the practice of musical instruments is likely to annoy the neighbors. There can be no doubt whatever that it is; and when the man next door sends in to complain there is no use in quarreling over the point. Admit promptly and frankly that the noise is horrible, promise to cease practising after half-past twelve at night, except when you have visitors; and confess that if he in self-defence takes up another instrument you will be bound to suffer in turn for the sake of his health and culture as he is now suffering for yours. This is far more sensible and social than to place the bell of your instrument against the partition wall and blow strident fanfares in defiance of his nerves, as I foolishly did when a complaint of the kind was made to me. But I was little more than a boy at the time, and I have never since thought of it without remorse....

I believe that a taste for brass instruments is hereditary. My father destroyed his domestic peace by immoderate indulgence in the trombone; my uncle played the ophicleide -- very nicely, I must admit -- for years, and then perished by his own hand. Some day I shall buy a trombone myself. At the Inventions Exhibition Messrs Rudall and Carte displayed a double-slide trombone, which I felt insanely tempted to purchase. Of the merits of this instrument I was, and am, wholly ignorant, except that I inferred that its 'shifts' were only half as long as on the ordinary trombone; and I ascertained that its price was 13 guineas. If ever I have so vast a sum at my command I shall probably buy that trombone, and ask Herr Richter to engage me for the next concert at which the Walkürenritt or Les Francs-Juges is in the program."

H

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"If you want to become phthisis-proof, drink-proof, cholera-proof, and in short, immortal, play the trombone well and play it constantly." -- George Bernard Shaw
baileyman
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« Reply #3 on: Apr 29, 2016, 08:44PM »

Third act of Man and Superman, the Don Juan in Hell skit, the commander says, "I don't sound the same without my trombones."

The Devil say, "I hear you don't sound the same with them either."

Or something like that.
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Posaunus
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« Reply #4 on: Apr 29, 2016, 11:59PM »

From "Don Juan in Hell" (Act III of Man and Superman):

The Statue: Ha ha! Do you remember how I frightened you when I said something like that to you from my pedestal in Seville? It sounds rather flat without my trombones.

Don Juan: They tell me it generally sounds flat with them, Commander.

[A play perhaps better read than seen on stage?]
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Stewbones43

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« Reply #5 on: Apr 30, 2016, 11:42AM »

from: Some Instruments and How to Play Them (The Star, 8 March 1889)

I believe that a taste for brass instruments is hereditary. My father destroyed his domestic peace by immoderate indulgence in the trombone; my uncle played the ophicleide -- very nicely, I must admit -- for years, and then perished by his own hand. Some day I shall buy a trombone myself. At the Inventions Exhibition Messrs Rudall and Carte displayed a double-slide trombone, which I felt insanely tempted to purchase. Of the merits of this instrument I was, and am, wholly ignorant, except that I inferred that its 'shifts' were only half as long as on the ordinary trombone; and I ascertained that its price was 13 guineas. If ever I have so vast a sum at my command I shall probably buy that trombone, and ask Herr Richter to engage me for the next concert at which the Walkürenritt or Les Francs-Juges is in the program."

H



Howard, the quote is dated from 1889. Do we know when the double slide tenor trombone came into being? I knew of double slide contras but always assumed that the tenor version was a much later creation, even well into the 20th century.

Cheers

Stewbones
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Posaunus
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2016, 12:42AM »

Do we know the approximate present-day value of 13 guineas (about 13½ pounds) in 1889? 

I think it was a fair amount of money - perhaps equivalent to £1,500 to £3,000 today? 

In any case, I'm sure that George Bernard had no intention of squandering any sum - however vast - on a double-slide trombone!   
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MoominDave

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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2016, 01:23AM »

It very much depended on what social stratum you came from. One of the historical inflation calculators out there tells us that £13.13.0 in 1889 equates to £1,610.70 today.

However, while professional salaries then and now match up quite well through this multiplier, salaries at the lower end of the income scale are higher now than they were then. E.g. a list of agricultural labourers' wages over this period - in 1889 an agricultural labourer earned £0.13.4 per week, which, assuming year-round employment (probably a dicey assumption given the nature of the work?), implies an annual wage of £34.15.3, which by the inflation calculator equates to £3928.10 today, or (assuming the modern 37.5 hour working week) £1.43/hr, which you need to multiply severalfold to reach the current UK minimum wage.

So for people in GBS's stratum, this trombone wouldn't have cost the earth. To the people in the little village brass bands, it would have been only the collective purchasing power of the group allied with credit that made them available.
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Dave Taylor

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HowardW
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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2016, 01:40AM »

Howard, the quote is dated from 1889. Do we know when the double slide tenor trombone came into being? I knew of double slide contras but always assumed that the tenor version was a much later creation, even well into the 20th century.
There is a double-slide bass trombone in Leipzig: the bell section is signed "Jobst Schnitzer" and dated 1612; it probably originally belonged to a quart-trombone in D. The double slide with which it is now fitted was most likely made in Vogtland (the area of Saxony on the border to Bohemia) ca. 1830/40 (according to Herbert Heyde).

A lot of experimentation was done in the area of brass instruments during the 19th century. So it is indeed possible that Rudall and Carte designed and produced a double-slide trombone in the 1880s.

Howard
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"If you want to become phthisis-proof, drink-proof, cholera-proof, and in short, immortal, play the trombone well and play it constantly." -- George Bernard Shaw
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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2016, 03:04PM »

From the Trombone History Timeline here is an 1890 depiction of what appears to be a double-slide tenor.






the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica said

Quote
The double-slide trombone (fig. 2) — patented by Messrs Rudall Carte & Co. but said to have been originally invented by Halary in 1830 — is made in B♭, G bass and E♭ contrabass....



So it seems to have been at least available in the 19th century.
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Robert Holmén

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Posaunus
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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2016, 03:29PM »

That's quite a wedding ensemble! 
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robcat2075

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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2016, 04:52PM »

If you want to become phthisis-proof, drink-proof, cholera-proof, and, in short, immortal, play the trombone well and play it constantly.

I had to look that up. A name for tuberculosis I was not previously familiar with.



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Robert Holmén

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Eastcheap

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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2016, 06:29PM »

I had to look that up. A name for tuberculosis I was not previously familiar with.

Mark Twain famously had some things to say about the orthography.
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BillO
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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2016, 08:22PM »




Is there a skeleton with its back turned to the band there in the middle left hand side of the frame?  Or am I just imagining it?
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Never look at the conductor. You just encourage them.

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robcat2075

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« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2016, 09:28PM »


Is there a skeleton with its back turned to the band there in the middle left hand side of the frame?  Or am I just imagining it?

I see that as the driver sitting at the helm of a horse-drawn carriage, perhaps with a powdered wig on.
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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2016, 12:49PM »

Howard, the quote is dated from 1889. Do we know when the double slide tenor trombone came into being? I knew of double slide contras but always assumed that the tenor version was a much later creation, even well into the 20th century.

Cheers

Stewbones

Gottfried Weber published a (publicity) article in the Wiener Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung as well as a booklet on the "Weberschen Doppelposaune" in 1817. An instrument with 9 positions, that he describes in alto (Eb?), tenor/tenorbass (Bb) and bass (F) sizes.
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Maximilien Brisson
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« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2016, 05:31AM »

From "Don Juan in Hell" (Act III of Man and Superman):

The Statue: Ha ha! Do you remember how I frightened you when I said something like that to you from my pedestal in Seville? It sounds rather flat without my trombones.

Don Juan: They tell me it generally sounds flat with them, Commander.

[A play perhaps better read than seen on stage?]

Ah, the joys of aging memory!  What I was recalling was a radio performance on LP with Agness Moorehead, Cedrick Hardwicke, Charles Laughton, and Charles Boyer.  Those guys could really talk!

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HowardW
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« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2016, 06:43AM »

from: Rossini’s Stabat Mater (7 February 1877)

In the duet Quis est homo, the trombones, which have become a nuisance to frequenters of the Albert Hall, exerted themselves with their usual offensiveness. It is true that Rossini marked the semiquaver emphasized by the trombones fortissimo, but the maestro had studied the instruments in the hands of artists, and not in the circus. The strangest thing is that Mr Barnby, who should know better, apparently approves of the hideous bark – there is really no other equivalent in the language – from which the audience visibly shrink. Excepting further a sharp drum, the orchestra was otherwise efficient.

H
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"If you want to become phthisis-proof, drink-proof, cholera-proof, and in short, immortal, play the trombone well and play it constantly." -- George Bernard Shaw
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