William Carl Struss
Prelude and Fughetta:
Four trombones

Cedartown, Georgia, United States
Publisher: Potenza Music Publishing
Date of Publication: 1986 / 2016

Score and parts



If you enjoy the music of Orlando de Lassus, Carlo Gesualdo, and Giovanni Gabrielli, you may want to explore this charming, three-and-a-half minute work, entitled Praelude and Fughetta, by William Carl Struss. Struss received the Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Mississippi and studied trombone performance under Dr. Don R. Lewis, for whom the piece is dedicated. Struss is an active trombone teacher and was a Mississippi band director. He freelances regularly in both jazz and classical ensembles. His print music output includes arrangements and original music for low brass including solos, duets, quartets, and brass quintets, as well as sacred music, anthems for choirs, and music for bands. Praelude and Fughetta is Struss’ first composition.

As noted by the composer in the score, the first movement is inspired by pre-baroque choral music. Struss provides specific instruction for how the articulations and dynamics markings should be interpreted. Although written for trombone quartet, the composer encourages performances for trombone octet via part doubling. Range extends from D-a1. The fourth trombone part can be played comfortably on tenor trombone with f-attachment. Struss has chosen to cross-voices throughout the work resulting in equivalent tessitura in parts one through three.

The Praelude in e minor is characteristically mournful, gloomy, and restless. Its melody is well written. The octave E-naturals in the first trombone part float pleasantly out of the texture before blending into the other parts allowing for the possibility of a beautiful and homogeneous trombone quartet sound. Struss passes the melody from one part to the next seamlessly and clearly has knowledge of counterpoint.

Moving ahead approximately one hundred years, the quick, neo-baroque fughetta is “a little fugue-like movement,” according to the composer. This is obvious after observing the opening statement, a canon at the unison. The parts are simple and playful and that is part of what makes this movement enjoyable to both hear and play. Thus, this quartet might appeal to trombone quartets and choirs ranging from amateur to professional due to its versatility and accessibility. All things considered, Praelude and Fughetta is a nice contribution to classical trombone quartet repertoire; recommended. Potenza Music Publishers provides a bound score and parts with a stylish cover and premium grade paper. A recording of the work is available at

Reviewer: Tom Macaluso
Review Published December 1, 2019