Legacy was commissioned by Ron Socciarelli as a memorial to Reginald Fink, his longtime friend, colleague, and fellow trombonist. The work is in two movements: I. Elegy and II. Etude. Though it was not a matter addressed in the commissioning of the work, I decided I wanted this work to be as much about Reg’s musical persona and his legacy as a trombonist and pedagogue as it was about my own musical personality. Perhaps this decision came about because Reg was a bit of a traditionalist and my last work for trombone (T. Rex) had been anything but traditional. So maybe I figured I “owed” him one.
Elegy features a solo trombonist playing a lyrical melody (bittersweet, perhaps, but not maudlin — nothing about Reg, with his irreverent sense of humor, would ever suggest maudlin). Reg’s love of opera; his years of study with the influential Emory Remington, who championed the trombone as a “singing” instrument to an entire generation of trombonists; his etude and method books dealing with legato technique on the trombone; and our occasional discussions bemoaning what he saw as the demise of melody in twentieth-century music, all demonstrated his passion for soaring, singable melodies. So Reg...just for you... I’ve composed an Elegy with what is probably the most singable melody I’ve written in years (and maybe for years to come, as well!) and set it against some of the most conventional harmonies I’ve used in quite a while. Offsetting these rather traditional elements is a somewhat slippery sense of meter. The work is in “7” (one beat for each letter of Reg Fink), but the slow speed, the rather free-floating melody, and the lone measure of “9” near the middle, all conspire to blur its perception just a bit. The goal is to produce a vague sense of “timelessness” — but with a pulse.
Among trombonists, Reg is famous for his pedagogical books which were among the first to deal with the use of the F-attachment. Using this legacy as a starting point, I wrote my own bouncy F-attachment Etude that will keep valves a-rattlin’ and clankin’ throughout most of the movement. Along the way there are probably a few uses of the F-attachment that Reg would raise an eyebrow over!
The work concludes with a reprise of the Elegy, the soloist silent for the closing bars.
Reginald Fink (b. 6/20/31 in York, Pa.; d. 11/3/96 in Athens, Ohio) graduated from the Eastman School of Music and received his doctorate from the University of Oklahoma. As a longtime member of the OU School of Music faculty, he was professor of trombone and the director of the OU Trombone Choir. He also served on the faculties of Oklahoma City University, West Virginia University and Ithaca College. He played with the orchestras in Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Rochester; and with the Ithaca Brass Quintet. He is world-renowned for his educational publications and method books for trombone, bass trombone, and tuba.