Johann Nepomuk Hummel was an Austrian composer and virtuoso pianist. He delighted audiences as a pianist wherever he went, but he is best known today as a composer of his work for the trumpet.
At the age of eight Mozart offered him music lessons and Hummel lived with Mozart for two years for free. He and Mozart cemented a good friendship.
His music reflects the transition from the Classical to the Romantic musical era.
Hummel wrote his Trumpet Concerto for Anton Weidinger, as had Joseph Haydn. Weidinger was the trumpet player of the moment, considered an artist using the instrument in ways others never had. Consequently a few significant composers wanted to write music specifically for him. Weidinger’s new trumpet had at least five keys and his technique raised the fundamental pitch to E. Haydn’s concerto was written in old Baroque style and Hummel’s the first modern one. The key of Hummel’s composition, E major, was an unusual one, and the work proved to be technically difficult. Many editions have subsequently transposed it into the easier key of E flat.
Click on the link below to listen to Hummel’s trumpet concerto – the trumpet starts at just over 2 minutes 10 seconds in.
There are places, mostly within the second movement, where it is believed that Weidinger changed the music because of the execution of the instrument. It is unknown whether this was in agreement with Hummel.
Hummel was famous until his death but sadly his music quickly went out of fashion and any revival was overshadowed by Mozart due to the large availability of his recordings. His music has now becoming reestablished in the classical repertoire.
He toured around Europe with his father for four years as a child prodigy, then went to London where Haydn wrote a symphony for the young pianist and Hummel performed it in Hanover Square Rooms in the presence of Haydn.
On his return to Vienna he was taught by Haydn who also taught a young Beethoven.
Franz Schubert dedicated his last three sonatas to Hummel, but by the time they were published both composers had died and they were dedicated to the active Robert Schumann.