Before reading this article I was aware of basic information regarding Ewalds life, his occupation as an engineer, his mastery of several instruments and basic information about his quintets. There are many misconceptions about Ewald because of research that was done without complete accuracy. There is still much we don't know about him, including the exact dates of many of his compositions. But new research, such as this article by Andre Smith has helped to clear up some of inconsistencies is his history.
Concerning the debate
between the use of piston and rotary valve I don't think there is a
clear answer. Because Ewalds music was commonly played by amateur
musicians the instrumentation probably varied depending on who was
playing and the instruments available to them. Ewald was known to
rework his compositions for different instruments as his string quartet
is a transcription of the fourth brass quintet. For these reasons I
don't believe there is a clear answer to which types of instruments the
quintets should be played on. Rotary or piston would be appropriate in
Forsyth's comment that "there is no true legato on the
trombone" struck me as a bit off. In the article his ideas of the
process for producing sound on the trombone were discussed and his
thoughts that before each slide change the trombonists must
rearticulate. I don't think it's necessary to discuss the mechanical
process for producing legato because there are many fine trombonists who
can produce legato articulations. As long as it sounds legato it is
The discussion of instrumental choices came into question
throughout the article. Mainly because there is no exact documentation
about which instruments were to be played as well as the fact that often
times the quintets were being performed by different instruments I
think the choice should be left to the performer to achieve the best
idea of sound the group wishes to attain.
Froides Werke can be
credited with helping to bring the Ewald quintes to the United States
when he traded them to the Empire Brass Quintet. The American Brass
Quintet played an important role in premiering the works to larger
audiences and helping the works become more well known.
article was a very interesting read and helped clear up some of the
misconceptions about Ewald and his quintets and I would recommend it to
anyone interested in learning more about Ewalds quintets.