Jean-Baptiste Arban
Method for Alto Trombone Part 4: Duets

Arranged by Wayne Groves

Alto trombone

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2020

Method book.


Jean Baptiste Arban, “The Paganini of the Cornet,” was born in Lyon in 1825 and died in Paris in 1889. These studies, first published in 1860, have become a cornerstone of the pedagogical literature for many other brass instruments. The Alto Trombone Method now comprises four volumes, 430 total pages, and is designed for students starting out on alto trombone. It is transposed down a major sixth from treble clef editions, or a fourth higher than tenor trombone versions, and is given exclusively in alto clef. A photograph of Mr. Arban appears on the cover of each volume. Each includes a foreword by Per Brevig and an introduction by Wayne Groves.

This volume is comprised of ‘68 Duets arranged and compiled by J.B.Arban’ and ‘60 Duets from 1879 Edition of Arban’s Method, edited by T.H. Rollinson’ (1844-1928), an American cornettist and composer. All selections are in alto clef. The first is ‘Sacred Song’ by the Ukrainian composer Dmytro Bortniansky (1751-1825), whose name has been misspelled as ‘Portniansky.’ This is probably now best known as the hymn-tune ‘St Petersburg.’ The second selection is ‘Russian Hymn,’ familiar from its appearance in Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture.’ It was composed in 1833 by Aleksēi L’vov (1798-1870), but in this collection it is unattributed, as are 30 other selections, including the British National Anthem, possibly composed by John Bull (1562/63-1628). There are ‘Airs’ by Mozart and Beethoven and songs by composers whose names are now less familiar, such as Wilhelm Kücken (1810-1882) and Ciro Pinsuti (1829-1888). Many others are obviously folk-songs; all selections have been chosen for their uncomplicated lyrical style and an imperative to ‘play beautifully.’

The upper register is not greatly challenged, first part tops out at d², optional e-flat², and second at c². The majority of notes in both parts, and almost all of them in the second part, lie within the staff. The lowest note in second part is A, a B-flat extension is not needed.

These études fulfill a long unmet need for high quality study material for the alto trombone and will be of great value in achieving fluency of technique, and in reading alto clef. I sure would have liked to have had them available when I began playing alto trombone more than 40 years ago.

Reviewer: Keith Davies Jones
Review Published January 2, 2022