Return to Handbook Table of Contents
If I had to choose one excerpt that is most often played badly, this would be it. Unfortunately, most players have no idea what to do with this piece and simply plow through it.
Keep in mind that this is one of the few audition excerpts that shows both a moderate dynamic and a light touch. Audition committees are looking for a real artist when they hear this excerpt. This was always my best excerpt at auditions which I think was the case because I really studied it and understood what was going on.
Get the full score and notice that the bass trombone fulfills two important roles in this piece: we are both a bass member of the orchestra and, sometimes, a doubler of the bass voices of the chorus. It makes a difference to know when you are doing what. I have written in the lyrics for those times where we are "singing" with the chorus (in both English and German). Since Haydn wrote The Creation to be sung in German, I believe it is important to phrase with the German text, hence do NOT take a breath after the dotted quarter note in measure 18.
The tempo is a moderate allegro - don't play this too fast (the tempo indication of Vivace may work well for "historically correct" performing, but conductors and audition committees tend to think it's just too fast if played at more than a moderate allegro). Remember, this piece is called Achieved is the Glorious Work. It speaks of the completed creation of the universe and everything was GOOD! This is happy music, so don't let is sound frantic - imagine you are part of the heavenly host stepping back and observing the beauty of creation.
Haydn really uses the baroque sense of strong and weak beats in this piece, so beats one and three have a slight bit of implied emphasis. Don't take the staccato marks too seriously - keep the whole passage light and buoyant. I add subliminal slurs on the octave jumps in measures 3, 4, 8 and 9. This keeps us from hitting the top note too hard but I want to stress that this slur is VERY SLIGHT. Don't make too much of it.
Keep the tempo up during the rests; it is very easy to come in too late after rests. The figure of three repeated eighth notes leading to a dotted quarter (as in measures 16-17) is important thematically so don't just hammer away at the eighths - make them lead to the strong beat.
Breathing is always the big question in this piece. I recommend using a technique called "sniff breathing" in which we leave the mouthpiece on the embouchure and "sniff" quick breaths through our nose. This is a technique that takes some time to develop, but I've used it successfully for many years. I have indicated with the letter S some sample spots for sniff breaths but they can be taken almost anywhere.
The key to successful "sniff" breathing is to take in very small amounts of air through the nose before your lungs are depleted and to take them very frequently (rather like people used to vote in old Chicago: early and often!). These small "sniffs" take up just a fraction of a second and the air taken in can be measured in milliliters, not liters. Using exercises such as those found in the Kopprasch "60 Studies" (taken at a slow-moderate tempo at first) will be useful in fine-tuning "sniff" breathing after which time practice of orchestral and solo material such as this excerpt can be undertaken.
Above all, strive to communicate the joyous, buoyant character of the piece. The high notes should not sound strained, the dynamic should be a medium forte (not a Wagnerian forte) and you should make this all sound so very easy and happy.
There are several other pieces in The Creation that are often asked on auditions, so do not overlook them. In time they will appear in my web site, but for the time being, make sure to check them out yourself. Several passages require fast slide and tongue work and have even fewer places to breathe than the excerpt printed above.
For an excellent discussion of the role of the bass trombone in The Creation, see Performing Haydn's The Creation by A. Peter Brown (1986, Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-38820-1). Whether or not you have this important book in your library is an indication of how serious you are about performing this piece in an informed way. The job will go to the person who goes the "extra mile" in understanding the music he plays.
In addition, Edward Solomon has contributed an excellent on-line article (once there, go to the "Articles" section in the left hand menue, then find the article: "Creating Problems") concerning the trombone writing in The Creation which I highly recommend.
You've probably noticed that this excerpt forms an important thematic basis for my entire web site (it is the background "wallpaper on many pages). That's because I always enjoyed playing this excerpt at auditions (it was one excerpt I knew I could play as well as anyone) and the piece itself is simply one of the most fun pieces in the literature. Also, when I was a student at Wheaton College (Illinois), I was in a trombone quartet that consisted of James Roskam, Eric Carlson (now Second Trombonist with the Philadelphia Orchestra), William Meena and myself - the quartet version of Achieved is the Glorious Work was our group's "signature tune." That was a very long time ago, but an important period in my musical, spiritual and personal development.
You can hear me play this excerpt on the 1984 audition tape which I made for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The recording may be found in mp3 format on the Douglas Yeo Boston Symphony Orchestra Audition Tape page of this website.
To download the music of this excerpt as a PDF file which may be read and printed in a high quality output with Adobe Acrobat Reader (free software), click the icon below:
Return to Handbook Table of Contents
All rights reserved.