The trombone is one of those unique instruments that are thought of equally as an ensemble instrument and a solo one.
There are a ton of trombone solos out there to listen to and learn to play!
In fact, there are so many, it’s not to know what to listen to and learn.
I used my experience as a low brass player (tuba) and my connections with my friends who play trombones (many at the professional level) to come up with this list of the 25 best trombone solos with videos included where possible.
Listen and get inspired!
The list includes:
- Bach Cello Suite No. 2
- The Clan by Curtis Fuller
- Ballade by Eugene Bozza
- Concertino for Trombone by Ferdinand David
- Coffee Pot by J. J. Johnson
- Trombone Sonata by Eric Ewazen
- New Orleans by Eugene Bozza
- Trombone Concerto by Launy Grøndahl
- Nothing But The Truth by Al Grey
- Morceau Symphonique by Alexandre Guilmant
- Concerto For Trombone by Gordon Jacob
- Trombone Sonata by Paul Hindemith
- Blue Monk by Kai Winding
- Aria and Polonaise by Joseph Jongen
- Concerto For Bass Trombone by Robert Spillman
- Romance by Axel Jørgensen
- Gnostic by Grachan Moncur III
- Blue Bells of Scotland by Arthur Pryor
- Trombone Concerto by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov
- Peace Fugue by Fred Wesley
- Cavatine by Camille Saint-Saëns
- A Night In Tunisia with J. J. Johnson
- Sonata for Trombone and Piano, “Vox Gabrieli” by Stjepan Sūlek
- Romance by Carl Maria von Weber
- Andante et Allegro by Joseph Edouard Barat
Table of Contents
Best Classical Trombone Solos
Bach Cello Suite No. 2
Bach’s Cello Suites were originally written for cello, yes, but they are also standard trombone repertoire for almost any brass instrument in this lower register, including tuba, euphonium, and trombone.
The suites are written as a sort of exercise, but in reality, they’re among some of the most beautiful music ever written, and they sound great on the trombone.
Ballade by Eugene Bozza
There are many solos written for specific instruments that are written as recital pieces.
Basically, they’re a way to show off the performer’s skills. In some cases, these pieces rise to the level of virtuoso, like this French recital piece.
It has both lyrical and fast, dance-like sections. On top of this is the extended cadenza, where the trombonist gets to show off the depth of their skills.
It’s a higher range and not for the faint of heart. Advances and professional trombone players will enjoy learning this one.
Concertino for Trombone by Ferdinand David
This piece was written in 1834 by Ferdinand David and dedicated to his friend, Karl Traugott Queisser.
Since then, it’s been considered one of the greatest classical trombone solos and one of the earliest to ever be written.
It’s almost a rite of passage for great trombone players to record this on an album or play it at a recital as part of their professional studies.
Trombone Sonata by Eric Ewazen
Ewazen’s Sonata is a newer piece, composed for solo trombone in 1998.
Since then, it’s taken the bone world by storm and become a standard piece for those looking to develop their trombone skills.
It’s a tough piece, but it’s not so hard that only the best can play it.
Any students serious about the trombone should take a look at it and find some parts they can play.
New Orleans by Eugene Bozza
This 1962 solo was written for a bass brass and piano.
While the bass saxhorn was the intended soloist, this instrument has since failed and fallen off the face of the Earth.
However, the tuba and the bass trombone have picked it up as part of their standard repertoire.
If you like playing low or playing bass trombone, this is a must-listen, must-play.
Trombone Concerto by Launy Grøndahl
This concerto was written in Italy in 1924.
Launy played violin with the Orchestra of the Casino Theatre in Copenhagen where he was constantly impressed by the skill and sound of the trombone section.
This awe inspired him to write the concerto, which has become standard solo literature for many greats, including:
- Joseph Alessi
- Brett Baker
- Håkan Björkman
- Jesper Juul Sørensen
- Massimo La Rosa
- Christian Lindberg
- Jacques Mauger
- Branimir Slokar
Morceau Symphonique by Alexandre Guilmant
This Romantic-style piece is another one written for bass trombone.
While I first came across it in my tuba studies (we play quite a few bass trombone solos, too), I fell in love with this as a bone work when a visiting professor came and performed it on bass trombone.
The skill and richness of tone this complex work provides is mesmerizing and inspiring to any brass player, but especially those in the lower register.
Concerto For Trombone by Gordon Jacob
Gordon Jacob’s 20th-century trombone solo provides a needed place in the development of a player’s skill.
It was written in three movements: fast-slow-fast, and provides a moderate level of skill without “dumbing down” the trombone solo.
The pros may enjoy playing this one, though they’ll often find it easy.
But for those middling players or those on their way to greatness, this will provide a good challenge while being musically satisfying.
Trombone Sonata by Paul Hindemith
On a personal note, I love Hindemith’s works. They’re modern enough to sound different from the “older’ styles of music (though this was still written in 1941), but not so modern that it becomes impossible to recognize the melody of the work.
He wrote a Sonata for pretty much every instrument imaginable, and this one for the trombone is a solid option to play and a pleasant one to listen to.
Aria and Polonaise by Joseph Jongen
This fun trombone solo with piano won’t win any awards as the most “showy” of the trombone solos on this list, but it is beautiful to listen to and sneakily complex to play.
If that’s not enough to convince you to give it a listen, it’s been recorded by greats such as Joe Alessi and Christian Lindberg.
If it’s good enough for them, that’s plenty good enough for me!
These fellows are also featured on our massive list of the best trombone players of all time (with video).
Click the link above to check it out.
Concerto For Bass Trombone by Robert Spillman
Of the trombone family, the bass trombone doesn’t get a lot of solo love, despite it being the second-most popular type of trombone.
Robert Spillman rectifies this a bit with his epic Concerto for Bass Trombone.
*Concerto typically means the solo can be played with a bigger group, often a full orchestra. They also have versions with piano, but learning these may lead to a big solo opportunity at some point in your career.
Romance by Axel Jørgensen
The 1916 work was originally set for trombone and orchestra. Then, a piano reduction was written to make this solo work in the recital hall as well.
Interestingly and sadly, the originals of this work were lost in a fire during World War II.
Trombone Concerto by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov
I don’t know if Rimsky-Korsakov’s 1877 work is the most famous classical trombone solo, but it’s certainly up there.
With its iconic opening motif, this solo does an excellent job of establishing the player’s skills right with technical passages off the bat.
It’s catchy and fun to play and listen to.
At the school I went to (Central Michigan University), most trombonists learned it at some point. Many performed it, and I even got to hear the professor of trombone play it with the orchestra!
Cavatine by Camille Saint-Saëns
Saint-Saëns is better known for his works like Carnival of the Animals and Symphony No.3, but he also wrote many solos and other works.
This trombone one was dedicated to George W. Stewart, who was an organizer for such events as the 1903 World’s Fair. This piece was written in 1915.
Blue Bells of Scotland by Arthur Pryor
Arthur Pryor was known as one of the greatest trombonists of all time, and he wrote a lot of solos for his beloved brass instrument.
But the best known of these is the Blue Bells of Scotland.
It’s a great work and really shows off the trombone’s virtuoso skills with high notes, fast rhythms, and impressive sound.
Sonata for Trombone and Piano, “Vox Gabrieli” by Stjepan Sūlek
As a newer piece, this work instantly became a classic in the trombone world when it premiered at the International Trombone Festival in 1973.
This work really leans into the melodic and beautiful quality the trombone can produce. It also has a wide range of pitches, so be prepared to exhaust your chops!
Romance by Carl Maria von Weber
von Weber may not have written this originally for trombone; some claim the bassoon was its intended soloist.
But like the Bach Cello Suites, this doesn’t mean it won’t work well on the trombone.
In fact, most people recognize it as a trombone solo before a bassoon one at this point.
This lyrical piece is a workshop in musicianship where you take a “simple” piece and make it shine.
Andante et Allegro by Joseph Edouard Barat
At the National Conservatory in Paris, there was an annual trombone competition, and in 1935, Barat composed this solo specifically for the competition.
He dedicated it to Professor Henri Couillaud, and the piece has stuck around ever since!
As a competition solo, it balances the lyrical with the virtuoso, but it also stands on its own as an engaging work for the listener.
Best Jazz Trombone Solos
These jazz trombone solos are legendary to listen to.
In this section, I’ll put a link to each of these solos from YouTube for you to listen to and enjoy!
The Clan by Curtis Fuller
A Night In Tunisia with J. J. Johnson
Peace Fugue by Fred Wesley
Gnostic by Grachan Moncur III
Blue Monk by Kai Winding
Nothing But The Truth by Al Grey
Coffee Pot by J. J. Johnson
Further Reading: Cleaning the trombone: the right way!