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The origins of wind chamber music and history of patronage

The string quartet was established c 1750’s by Josef Haydn at the court of Prince Esterhazy, a good 40 years before the very first oboe trios composed by Johan Went were first performed. The wind equivalent to the string quartet I believe, is more the oboe trio than the wind quintet, as the oboe trio shares the same homogeonous  tone as the string quartet, as opposed to  the wind quintet which has its 5 different instrumental timbres. However, of the two wind groupings the wind quintet has shared a more prominent position in chamber music since the 18th century, becoming the far more widely recognised and established chamber ensemble grouping.

“Major composers who wrote original harmoniemusik in Vienna c 1750-1800, included Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; while quality works also came from lesser-known composers such as J. C. Bach, W. F. E. Bach, Hummel, Rossetti, Druschetzky, Krommer, Dittersdorf, and Hoffmeister. In addition to original works, an even greater amount of music was arranged for Harmonie. Operas were the heavy favorite and became quite a sought-after employment.”  *  *

Compared to the 120 or so Serenades, Partithas and Divertimentos composed for Wind Harmonie by the ‘Bohemian/Viennese’ classical composers approximately 1750-1850 – there are only another 20 wind harmonie works composed over the following 150 years.  Of which only four are really well known standard repertoire: the Serenade in D minor of Dvorak, The Serenade in Eb major and Suite in Bb major of Richard Strauss and Gounod's Petite Symphonie.


Why do we not have regular performances of the Wind Ensembles written by Beethoven, Krommer, Schubert, Spohr, Triebensee, Mendelssohn, Dubois, Reinicke, Gouvy, Hahn, Hartley, Grainger, Liadov, Luebeck, Mahler, Milhaud, Pierne, Raff, Rimsky-Korsakov, Scmitt and Verdi? (see the list of Wind Harmonie Music in Appendices)

I believe the reason is principally the lack of funds to support the musicians rehearsal time and touring costs that would be needed to  perform these works. 

The Princes Schwarzenberg along with the other local Viennese aristocracy - the Imperial family, Prince Aloys von Liechtenstein, Prince Kraft Ernst at Wallerstein, Elector Maximillian Franz and Prince Karl Egon von Fürstenberg, have proved it is possible to not only create a rich body of works, but also to provide performance opportunities through generous patronization. 

‘Les Six’ in France,  who are the last collective to have made an important contribution to wind chamber music from 1920-70 were patronized by Coco Chanel, Comtesse de Greffuhle and the Comtesse de Chevigné, as well as the Polignac and Étienne de Beaumont families. The compositions from this collective were mainly Wind Quintets or Solo Wind & Piano.

More recently it has been established protocol to patronize a string quartet with a 5, 10, 20 and sometimes 30 year residency in a university or conservatoire whilst they mature and fully ‘learn their trade’. Wind quintets are also occasionally offered residencies - but not usually for such a long period of time and often it is the five woodwind professors of a faculty that are patronised to play in the faculty quintet as opposed to five members of a dedicated wind quintet being invited as a whole. 

There has been no such offer of patronage for a dedicated oboe trio - until now.

For more information on current projects that require funding and how to support the Lonarc Foundation and the Lonarc Ensembles please send an email on the following link:

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