“From the Vault:” A Paper on Beethoven’s Use of Trombones in the Fifth Symphony

This week’s post is a paper that I wrote twelve years ago for a seminar on Beethoven I took during doctoral school. As a graduate student my practice when taking musicology courses was to whenever possible choose research topics that related to my performing work, and Beethoven’s use of the trombone is an interesting subject with plenty of discussion in the secondary literature. My posting this today has its genesis in a brief discussion of the subject on Facebook last week, after which I resolved to dig this paper out of my own archives and turn it into a blog post. It is rather lengthy for a blog, but I have nevertheless decided to share it in its entirety in a single post rather than serially over two or three weeks.

This text is entirely unedited from its original form, and displays some quirks that are hopefully not as present in my writing today as they were then, particularly the overuse of adverbs and commas, and an excessive fondness for the word “indeed.” Twelve years of having my work shortened by editors (and working as an editor myself) have rid me of some of those tendencies. Nevertheless, after rereading the paper I would leave its main content  unchanged were I to rewrite it today, and I hope readers here will find it interesting.


To trombonists, the Fifth Symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) is perhaps the most important work in the orchestral repertoire, a distinction earned by the fact that the Fifth is the earliest symphony which uses trombones that is still commonly performed.[1] Because of this, Beethoven is often revered in the trombone world as an innovator, and even as a liberator of sorts for expanding trombone usage beyond the traditional roles into which it had been pigeonholed for several decades. While Beethoven’s role in “liberating” the trombone should not be disputed, a question remains: what motivated Beethoven to use trombones in this symphony? This paper will seek to answer that question, demonstrating that the use of trombones in this symphony can be interpreted as a rhetorical gesture, reflecting recent trends in trombone usage in opera and oratorio by Beethoven’s immediate predecessors and by Beethoven himself.

Early History of the Trombone and its Use in Dramatic Music

Determining the exact date of the trombone’s invention is somewhat difficult, primarily because of the rather small amount of documentary and iconographical evidence available from the time the instrument is believed to have been invented, as well as some glaring inconsistencies in the terminology used by Medieval scribes and even modern writers when describing instruments.[2] Manifestations of the word sackbut, an old English term for trombone now commonly used to describe the small-bore and small-belled predecessors of the modern instrument, appear as early as 1340, but it is more likely that “the trombone, if considered as a large, double-slide trumpet,”[3] developed sometime during the fifteenth century, and “was evidently in widespread use by 1500.”[4]

The 1500’s also saw the emergence of another important musical phenomenon: the development of dramatic music, specifically the Florentine intermedii. This new musical and dramatic idiom was developed primarily because of the influence of the powerful Medici family in Florence, which used innovative musical and dramatic productions such as the intermedii to demonstrate its wealth and power. Hills states that trombones are found in the instrumentation of at least five of the intermedii written during the sixteenth century, including that of 1589, which would prove to be significant in the development of opera within the next decade. The fact that the trombone is used in the intermedii is significant not only because the instrument was used but, more importantly, because of the manner in which it was used. In the intermedii, the use of trombones became a programmatic element, used, depending on the instrumentation, to depict either noble, royal, or religious scenes, such as the Olympian gods or various Biblical scenes, or “infernal and horrendous scenes . . . allowing a glimpse into Hell.”[5] The practice of including trombones in the instrumentation as a rhetorical element in dramatic works, especially carrying the latter, darker connotation, is a convention that would carry over from the intermedii into early opera.

Claudio Monteverdi’s (1567-1643) L’Orfeo (1607), one of the most well-known of the early operas, employs trombones rhetorically in a manner similar to that of the intermedii. While trombones are employed throughout the work, the use of the instruments in the “Chorus of Spirits” is especially notable. This scene is obviously associated with death, mourning, and the underworld, and Monteverdi specifies in the score that trombones are to double the voices throughout.[6] In doing so, Monteverdi helped to more firmly establish the practice of employing trombones during “infernal and horrendous scenes”[7] which began with the Florentine intermedii.

After Monteverdi and his contemporaries, the trombone fell into widespread disuse for a time, especially in Italy, France, and Britain.[8] However, when mid-eighteenth-century composers began to once again call for trombones in opera many adopted the rhetorical associations employed by Monteverdi more than a century before. One of the first such composers to do so was Christoph Willibald von Gluck (1714-1787).

Although German by birth, Gluck is most often associated with the Opéra in Paris, for which he wrote several works beginning in the 1770’s. However, before he left Germany and Austria to become one of the most influential opera composers in France, one of his greatest operas, Orfeo ed Euridice, was produced in Vienna in 1762. Gluck’s scoring for trombones in Orfeo is a perfect illustration of how the first writing for trombones in eighteenth-century opera displays the same rhetorical associations employed by Monteverdi. Guion writes:

Gluck used trombones in only two scenes, the opening funeral scene and the beginning of the second act, where Orpheus overcomes the Furies. In the latter scene, the trombones are associated with the chorus. Thus, the gloom of death hangs heavily whenever the trombones are heard.[9]

Although Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) used the trombone in several of his operas, he perhaps used them most powerfully in Don Giovanni (K. 527, 1787). Although it had been nearly twenty-five years since Gluck’s Orfeo was produced in Vienna, it is undoubtable that Mozart was familiar with his predecessor’s operatic use of the trombone. The symbolic significance of the trombones in Don Giovanni is consistent with Gluck’s work in that trombones are employed exclusively as a symbol of death and judgment. Adams writes, “the trombones appear only twice in the opera, both times in Act II and then only when the statue is in the scene.”[10] This morbid symbolism is also reflected in Mozart’s actual scoring for the trombones, in which he frequently uses diminished chords (which many would describe as “morbid” in color) and the “tragic”[11] key of D minor.

Mozart’s writing for trombones in his last opera, Die Zauberflöte (K. 620, 1791), is related to the prior use of trombones in operas by himself and others in that the trombones are employed primarily as a symbol of things not of this world. This connotation given to the trombone makes the instrument especially suitable for use in Die Zauberflöte because of the supernatural nature of that opera’s plot. Guion writes:

Supernatural and religious elements, infrequent in Idomeneo and Don Giovanni, pervade Die Zauberflöte. As a consequence, the latter makes much more extensive use of trombones, which accompany genies, priests, various ceremonies, and the appearance of daylight at the end of the opera.[12]

Guion’s statement is significant in that, while all of Mozart’s uses of the trombone in this opera listed above have to do with “supernatural and religious elements,”[13] these elements, especially the association with daylight, represent a new manner of utilizing the trombone’s supernatural connotation. While practically all prior operatic, and, indeed, most sacred uses of the trombone to this point carried an association with death or impending doom, many of Mozart’s uses here, again, especially the association with daylight, indicate a new connotation for the trombone; one which, while still religious in nature, is associated with expressions of joy and life, rather than fear and death.

Like the operatic writing for trombones in Die Zauberflöte, much of Franz Joseph Haydn’s (1732-1809) writing for the trombones in his oratorio Die Schöpfung marks a moving away from the trombone’s association with death and judgment. One of the most striking examples of this is in No. 2, in which, at the words “Let there be Light,” trombones are used in “the great C major chord which marks the appearance of light.”[14] Perhaps Haydn had in mind here Mozart’s use of trombones in association with daylight in Die Zauberflöte. However, if such a relation between the two works does exist, it was only hesitantly placed there by Haydn, who, according to Solomon, actually added the trombones to this chord at some point after the first performances of the work. Solomon writes”

This passage was, then as now, generally regarded as a masterstroke and originally did not feature the trombones underpinning the rest of the orchestra. This in itself is not surprising, given the age-old association which the trombone has had with the underworld and death.[15]

One might surmise from Solomon’s assessment that Haydn, in his genius, recognized that using trombones here would be quite effective, but was somewhat reticent about abandoning earlier conventions regarding the symbolic association of the trombone.

Another instance of this new positive symbolism regarding the trombone occurs in No. 26, “Achieved is the Glorious Work,” in which the bass trombone alternates doubling the instrumental bass line and doubling the voices. Haydn added the bass trombone part after the initial performances of the work, [16] perhaps in the same revision in which he added trombones to the chord in No. 2, so this may be another instance of Haydn’s hesitance to use the trombone in “positive” dramatic scenes being overcome by his perception that using the instrument in these scenes would be quite effective. Despite this initial reticence, Haydn’s work helped to further establish the new, more positive connotation of the trombone first established by Mozart.

Employing trombones as a rhetorical element in dramatic music was a standard convention beginning with the earliest musical-dramatic forms. In the Florentine intermedii, the first seventeenth-century operas, and many eighteenth-century works, trombones were employed in scenes associated with death, judgment, and divine wrath. As the nineteenth century approached, however, composers began to assign a new connotation to the trombone: an association with light, life, and triumph. It is this dual tradition of trombone usage that Beethoven would inherit.

Beethoven’s Continuation of These Ideas: Christus am Ölberge

While Beethoven’s use of trombones in the Fifth Symphony is the instance of trombone usage for which he is most remembered, the Fifth was not the only work in which the composer used trombones, nor was it the earliest. The oratorio Christus am Ölberge,[17] which dates from 1803-1804, makes somewhat frequent use of alto, tenor, and bass trombones. The nature of the texts accompanied by trombones indicates that Beethoven was familiar with both the older, darker connotation of the trombone and the newer association with light.

Trombones first appear at the very beginning of the work, leading directly into the first Recitativo, in which the character of Jesus states the following:

Meine Seele ist erschüttert
von den Qualen, die mir dräun
Schrecken faßt mich, und es zittert
gräßlich schaudernd mein Gebein.
Wie ein Fieberfrost ergreifet
mich die Angst beim nahen Grab,
und von meinem antlitz träufet,
statt des Schweißes, Blut herab.
Vater! Tief gebeugt und kläglich
fleht dein Sohn hinauf zu dir:
Deiner Macht ist alles möglich,
nimm den Leidenskelch von mir.
Meine Seele ist erschüttert
von den Qualen, die mir dräun,
Und von meinem Antlitz träufet,
statt des Schweißes, Blut herab.

My soul is deeply distressed
by the agonies that threaten me,
terror grips me, and my bones
tremble with dread.
Like a feverish shivering, fear seizes me
as I approach the grave,
and from by brow trickles
not sweat, but blood.
Father! Deeply humble and wretched,
your son beseeches you:
For your might all things are possible,
take this cup of sorrows from me.
My soul is deeply distressed
by the agonies that threaten me,
and from my brow trickles
not sweat, but blood.

This text, with its discussion of impending death and suffering, clearly reflects the older connotation of death and judgment with which the trombone had long been associated. Besides the scoring for trombone, Beethoven sets this text in the key of C minor, which carried, for him, an association with suffering and anguish.18 The composer was clearly aware of the effectiveness of using trombones to accentuate a feeling of impending doom.

The next entrance of the trombones accompanies a similarly “dark” text:

Doch weh! Die frech entehren das Blut,
das für sie floß,
sie trifft der Fluch des Richters,
Verdammung ist ihr Loos.

But alas! Those who brazenly dishonor the blood
that flowed for them,
will incur the anathema of the Judge,
damnation is their lot.

Again, Beethoven demonstrates his knowledge of the trombone’s association with death and judgment. However, the final entrance of the trombones in this work has an entirely different character.

The last, and indeed the most prominent use of trombones in this work accompanies the final Chor der Engel (Chorus of Angels). While the prior appearances of the trombone have accompanied texts of a darker nature, in this case the text expresses triumph and joy:

Welten singen Dank und Ehre
dem erhab nen Gottessohn.
Preiset ihn, ihr EngelChöre.
laut im heil’gen Jubelton.

Let worlds sing thanks and glory
to the sublime Son of God.
Praise Him, choirs of angels,
in loud songs of holy jubilation.

In addition to the positive, triumphant text, this section is in the key of C Major. Just as C minor indicates feelings of anguish in Beethoven’s works,[18] C Major is the key of triumph and resolution.[19] Just as in “the great C major chord which marks the appearance of light”[20] in Die Schöpfung, Beethoven uses trombones and the key of C to accentuate the sense of triumph and joy conveyed at the end of the work. In this respect, Christus am Ölberge is a direct precursor to the appearance of trombones in the finale of the Fifth Symphony.

Non-Symbolic Precedents for Trombone Usage in the Symphony

Before discussing the ways in which Beethoven’s trombone writing in the Fifth is related to that in dramatic works, it is important to note that there were precedents for using trombones in non-dramatic symphonic music. One of these is the use of trombones in the overture. Mozart utilized trombones in the overture to Die Zauberflöte, an indication that Mozart, at the end of his life, began to see trombones as a viable member of the concert orchestra independent of any symbolic associations. Guion writes:

The importance of the trombone in operas transcends the theater. Operatic overtures were popular items on concerts. The participation of trombone in concert performances of these pieces paved the way for its eventual inclusion in concertos, symphonies, and other non-theatrical forms.[21]

Because overtures were commonly performed on orchestral concerts, audiences and composers would have been accustomed, after Die Zauberflöte, to seeing trombones appearing in the orchestra on stage, not just in the orchestra pit.

Beethoven’s use of trombones in the Introduzione to Christus am Ölberge is also worth mentioning here, although this is arguably not as significant as that in Die Zauberflöte. This “overture” to Beethoven’s oratorio uses two trombones (tenor and bass), but not in an extremely prominent role. In addition, because this overture leads directly into the first recitative, it does not work as well as an independent work as Mozart’s overture, and was thus not likely to appear independently on concert programs. However, the fact still remains that, in scoring for trombones here, Beethoven chose to use trombones in a purely orchestral idiom before using them in the Fifth.

Besides overtures, another precedent for the use of trombones in symphonic music lies in the several symphonies including trombones which preceded Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Several composers wrote symphonies including trombone parts in the years preceding the composition of the Fifth, but none have entered the standard repertoire, leaving Beethoven with the honor of having established the trombone as a member of the concert orchestra.[22] Guion lists several such composers and works,[23] but for the purposes of this study, three symphonies of Ignaz Pleyel (1757-1831) are the most significant, both because of the number of “trombone symphonies” that he wrote, and because Pleyel is known to have had a working relationship with Beethoven.

Pleyel, like Beethoven, studied composition with Haydn before embarking on a career as a composer and Kapellmeister. In 1795 he opened a successful publishing house in Paris which published several of Beethoven’s works.[24] Pleyel’s symphonies were never published, and due to various circumstances it is unclear exactly when they were written – they perhaps date from as early as 1791.[25] However, given the various relationships between Beethoven, Pleyel, and Haydn, it is at least conceivable that Beethoven knew of Pleyel’s use of the trombone in his symphonies.

However, even if Beethoven knew of these “trombone symphonies” by Pleyel or any other composer, it is unlikely that they had a significant influence on the composition of the Fifth. Pleyel, for example, uses only one trombone in his symphonies, and the parts are rather unremarkable.[26] If Beethoven did know of such trombone usage by his predecessors, it is likely that this served as little more than an extra “go ahead” for the use of trombones in the Fifth Symphony. The use of trombones in overtures such as that to Die Zauberflöte probably had only slightly more influence; despite the fact that the overture is a purely orchestral idiom, it is still a genre that is laden with symbolism. In all matters of substance, the use of trombones in the late dramatic works of Mozart and Haydn, already emulated by Beethoven in Christus am Ölberge, appears to have been more significant in prompting Beethoven to use trombones in the Fifth.

The Fifth Symphony

Before discussing the trombone usage in the Fifth Symphony as an extension of rhetorical elements, it is necessary to explain the nature of Beethoven’s “heroic period,” which encompasses the composition of both Christus am Ölberge and the Fifth Symphony. This compositional period is usually considered to have begun with the writing of the 1802 “Heiligenstadt Testament.”[27] This document, written as Beethoven was only beginning to come to terms with his increasing deafness, relates the thoughts and feelings of the composer as he, despite his tremendous handicap, wills himself to continue his work. This strength of will reflects Beethoven’s concept of heroism, which has primarily to do with enduring and overcoming hardship.[28] After Heiligenstadt, much of Beethoven’s music, both dramatic and “absolute,” was used to express this concept. Jesus, as depicted in Christus am Ölberge, is a prime example of a Beethovenian hero; one who suffers great hardship, yet boldly faces his fate. In so doing, he is ultimately triumphant. Both Leonore and Florestan in Fidelio are also good examples.[29] Of course, assigning a “heroic” interpretation to non-dramatic works is a bit more difficult.

Broyles clearly believes that Beethoven’s heroic period symphonies are more expressive than previous works in the genre, but explains this simply as an amalgamation of previously divergent trends in Classical period composition. Specifically, the “sonata style” was viewed as expressive of a wide range of intense, personal emotions, while the “symphony style” expressed a “grand, exalted character.”[30] By combining the two, Beethoven transformed the symphony into a vehicle for personal expression, a role which the genre had not filled previously. Jander, however, believes that the Fifth Symphony is not only emotionally expressive, but even autobiographical in nature. He writes concerning the Fifth Symphony:

As for Beethoven’s C-Minor Symphony . . . the burst of C major at the outset of the finale would certainly be diminished as a statement of victory if we were to encounter this moment without the experience of the stress established in the bridge that leads toward it. That stress had been set up in the music at the end of the third movement – with its “fear that tightly constricts the breast” (Hoffmann), “which hardly dares to venture forth, as if there were no longer any future, hardly any present” (A.B. Marx), and with “a mood approximating mystery, numbness, even terror” (Kerman).

Even when the C-Minor Symphony is determinedly viewed as abstract, “absolute” music, the listener can experience all these emotions. On this basis, some will point out that nothing is “diminished” by remaining in the realm of universals, and the beginning of the finale can be understood by every listener in his or her own private manner. But this does not preclude an autobiographical motivation on Beethoven’s part. The triumph expressed here need not be restricted to the realm of the abstract. The quintessential moment of triumph in Beethoven’s music reflects the composer’s confrontation with the quintessential struggle in his own life: his deafness. Beethoven’s universal message of victory is intensified when the specific nature of his personal stress is understood and honored.[31]

Jander argues that Beethoven uses the Fifth Symphony to depict his own struggle with his deafness, followed by the triumph of overcoming his handicap and continuing to compose. Beethoven, then, becomes a “suffering hero” protagonist in the Fifth much like Jesus in Christus am Ölberge and Leonore and Florestan in Fidelio. Jander certainly allows for an “absolutist” interpretation of the work (though he clearly does not subscribe to this), but believes the emotional content of the work, at the very least, to be “universal.”[32]

The question remains, however: How does Beethoven convey this emotional, perhaps even autobiographical content in the Fifth? Interestingly, Beethoven uses many devices previously found in dramatic works by himself and others in order to enhance the expressive qualities of the symphony. One such device is the use of key signatures. As previously mentioned, C minor, the key of the first and third movements of the work, is often used by Beethoven to express anguish and despair,[33] while C Major, the key of the fourth movement, indicates triumph and resolution.[34] Indeed, even without Jander’s autobiographical interpretation one cannot help but “feel” the significant change in emotion as the fourth movement begins.[35] Just as in Christus am Ölberge, Beethoven uses the key of C minor as an indication of despair, and moves to C Major as an expression of triumph over that despair.

The use of trombones in the Fifth is simply another example of Beethoven using an expressive device previously found in dramatic music in the symphony. While it would be impossible to “prove” that Beethoven uses trombones as a rhetorical device here (indeed, some believe he was simply looking for a fuller sound from the orchestra[36]), the history of trombone usage up to this point, combined with the Fifth’s “universal”[37] emotional content and the more obvious rhetorical use of key signatures, certainly suggests that the trombone’s rhetorical connotations also came into play in Beethoven’s thinking. The appearance of trombones in the finale of the Fifth is remarkably similar to “the great C major chord which marks the appearance of light”[38] in Die Schöpfung, as well as to Beethoven’s prior use of trombones to accentuate the sense of triumph in the finale of Christus am Ölberge. In the same manner, the entrance of the trombones in the fourth movement, along with the modulation to C Major, helps to effect a feeling of triumph and resolution. Thus, the Beethovenian concept of heroism, with Beethoven’s “triumphant inner will”[39] as protagonist, is effectively conveyed.


The trombone is an instrument that has been laden with rhetorical connotations virtually since its very invention. Trombones were used in the Florentine intermedii and in early opera to accompany scenes depicting death and judgment, a connotation carried by the instrument well into the eighteenth century. Gluck and Mozart continued this association in their operatic writing, but Mozart, in Die Zauberflöte, introduced a new rhetorical association to the trombone: an association with light. This new association was also used (albeit reluctantly) by Haydn in Die Schöpfung. Beethoven, aware of both the “light” and “dark” connotations carried by the trombone, used both in his oratorio Christus am Ölberge.

Beethoven’s “heroic period” saw the composer extending the use of rhetorical elements beyond the realm of dramatic music and into “absolute” idioms such as the symphony. The use of trombones in the Fifth is an example of this, the composer having used them to accentuate the sense of triumph conveyed as the fourth movement begins. While Beethoven must always be credited with truly establishing the trombone as a member of the concert orchestra, it is likely that he did so not to “liberate” the trombone, but as a musical depiction of his own “triumphant inner will.” [40]


[1] John Drew, “The Emancipation of the Trombone in Orchestra Literature,” Journal of the International Trombone Association 9 (1981), 2-3.

[2] G.B. Lane, The Trombone in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1982): 62.

[3] Lane, 63.

[4] Lane, 63.

[5] Ernie Hills, “The Use of Trombone in the Florentine Intermedii, 1518-1589” (DMA diss., University of Oklahoma, 1984), 196.

[6] Claudio Monteverdi, L’Orfeo, Tutte le opera di Claudio Monteverdi, vol. 11, edited by G. Francesco Malipiero (Wien: Universal Edition, 1926-42), 107.

[7] Hills, 196.

[8] Raum, 89-92; Jay Dee Schaefer, “The Use of the Trombone in the 18th Century, The Instrumentalist 22:9 (1968), 51.

[9] David M. Guion, The Trombone: Its History and Music, 1697-1811 (New York: Gordon and Breach, 1988), 234.

[10] Stan R. Adams, “A Survey of the Use of Trombones to Depict Infernal and Horrendous Scenes

in Three Representative Operas,” Journal of the International Trombone Association 9 (1981), 17.

[11] Adams, 17.

[12] Guion, 140.

[13] Guion, 140.

[14] Edward Solomon, “Creating Problems: Edward Solomon Re-examines the Trombone Parts in Haydn’s Great Oratorio, The Creation,” <https://www.edwardsolomon.co.uk/creating-problems> [18 February 2016].

[15] Solomon, Online.

[16] Solomon, Online.

[17] Ludwig van Beethoven, Christ on the Mount of Olives (New York: Edwin F. Kalmus). English Translation of Text: In Christus am Ölberge liner notes (Germany: Harmonia Mundi, 2003).

[18] Barry Cooper, “Influences on Beethoven’s style,” in Barry Cooper, ed., The Beethoven Compendium (London: Thames and Hudson, 1991), 81.

[19] Lewis Lockwood, Beethoven: The Music and the Life (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2003), 224.

[20] Solomon, Online.

[21] Guion, 263.

[22] Guion, 269.

[23] Guion, 268.

[24] Allan Badley, “Ignaz Joseph Pleyel (1757-1831),” <http://www.artaria.com/pages/pleyel-ignaz-1757-1831>. [18 February 2016].

[25] Guion, 268.

[26] Guion, 270-275.

[27] Cooper, 198-199.

[28] Lewis Lockwood, “Beethoven, Florestan, and the Varieties of Heroism,” In Beethoven and His

World, ed. Scott Burnham and Michael P. Steinberg (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2000), 43.

[29] Lockwood, “Beethoven, Florestan . . .,” 43.

[30] Broyles, 11.

[31] Owen Jander, “‘Let Your Deafness No Longer Be a Secret – Even in Art:’ Self-Portraiture and the Third Movement of the C-Minor Symphony,” Beethoven Forum 8 (2000), 69-70.

[32] Jander, 70.

[33] Cooper, 81.

[34] Lockwood, Beethoven: The Music and the Life, 224.

[35] Jander, 70.

[36] Drew, 2.

[37] Jander, 70.

[38] Solomon, Online.

[39] Lockwood, “Beethoven, Florestan . . .,” 43.

[40] Lockwood, “Beethoven, Florestan . . .,” 43.


About Micah Everett

Micah Everett is Associate Professor of Music (Trombone/Low Brass) at the University of Mississippi, Principal Trombonist of the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Interim Music Director at College Hill Presbyterian Church, Assistant Editor (Audio/Video Reviews) for the International Trombone Association Journal, and an S.E. Shires trombone artist. He is the author of THE LOW BRASS PLAYER'S GUIDE TO DOUBLING, published by Mountain Peak Music, and released two solo recordings, STEPPING STONES FOR BASS TROMBONE, VOLS. 1 and 2, on the Potenza Music label in 2015 and 2022, respectively. In addition to his professional work, he maintains an avid interest in the study of the Bible and of Reformed theology. He holds doctoral and master's degrees in music from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a bachelor's degree in music education from Delta State University, and a certificate in systematic theology from Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary.
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