Blue Soliloquy and other “Jazzy” Works for Unaccompanied Horn

I am always pleasantly surprised to find out who has been reading my blog.  On Monday morning when I checked my campus mail I was greeted by a package from Steven Winterregg, a composer and tuba player who has written a number of solo and chamber works for horn.  You can check out a complete list of his works  here, but it suffices to say he is a prolific composer with many fine works for brass instruments. Dr. Winteregg had recently read my post on the solo competition at the Southeast Horn Workshop, in which I noted that I was interested in hearing his Blue Soliloquy for unaccompanied horn.  In response, Dr. Winteregg very generously sent me a copy of the piece along with a CD recording!  The CD features hornist Richard Chenoweth in recordings of Winteregg’s chamber music.  The performances are all fantastic, including Blue Soliloquy, which was commissioned by Richard Chenoweth and the International Horn Society’s Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Fund.  According to the liner notes, Blue Soliloquy “was composed in memory of Richard’s father, Paul Chenoweth, who was an enthusiastic advocate of both Richard and Steve. Since Paul was a lover of older jazz, Blue Soliloquy was written with a jazz flavor and an elegiac mood as a remembrance.” (Liner notes by Richard Chenoweth, edited and revised by Andrea Chenoweth.)

This single-movement piece looks very playable, yet challenging enough to keep advanced players interested.  In addition to jazz rhythms, it also includes inflections such as bends, shakes, and slides (portamento). I am planning to perform the piece on an upcoming recital, and am looking forward to working on it – thanks again Steve!

Listening to Blue Soliloquy brought to mind a number of other “jazzy” compositions for unaccompanied horn.  I use the word jazzy because although these works don’t specifically require improvisation (a hallmark of jazz), they do at times make extensive use of the rhythms and language of jazz.   I’ve listed as many as I can think of below – feel free to comment if you know of other works.

  • David Amram, Blues and Variations for Monk
  • Stanley Friedman, Topanga Variations
  • Douglas Hill, Jazz Set; Jazz Soliloquies; Oddities; Greens/Blues/Reds
  • Trygve Madsen, Dream of the Rhinoceros
  • Daniel Schnyder, Le Monde Miniscule
  • Les Thimmig, Bluefire Crown II
  • Alec Wilder, 12 Pieces for Solo Horn

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