TROMBONES AND HORNS
NOT for long was the orchestra to remain in the state of calm that had produced the shapely Haydn symphonies, for a great dramatic genius was already finding it insufficient for his musical needs. When Mozart was writing his opera Don Giovanni in 1787, the trombones had already returned to some favour with composers. Once the numerical balance between strings, wind instruments, and percussion had been settled satisfactorily in the main essentials, there seems to have been little hesitation in accepting the trombones (usually three) as rightful additions to the brass section. Gluck, in particular, used them to fine effect in his operas. But no one at that time seemed to want them in the symphony, not even Mozart. Their subsequent elevation to symphonic rank came from Beethoven some twenty years after Don Giovanni was written.
Yet it was actually Mozart who rediscovered the trombones in all their splendour of tone. He it was who in the last act of Don Giovanni gave them a new and wonderful significance. He it was who, in The Magic Flute, four years later, again invested them with an extraordinary duality of character; first, to illustrate the Temple of Wisdom and Light, wherein Masonic rites were performed by the high priest Sarastro and his brethren; and, secondly, to depict the final descent of Sarastro's enemy the Queen of Night into her Kingdom of Darkness. If Haydn has been called the "Father of the Symphony," then assuredly we must rank Mozart as the male parent of modern orchestration. And lest the reader think I am overstating matters, let me recall to his mind the scenes in Don Giovanni, where, in my submission, the three trombones for the first time foreshadow in the most definite terms the birth of the modern orchestra.