In his translation of the Bible into German, Martin Luther rendered 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 like this:
Siehe, ich sage euch ein Geheimnis: Wir werden nicht alle entschlafen, wir werden aber alle verwandelt werden; und dasselbe plötzlich, in einem Augenblick, zu der Zeit der letzten Posaune.
Which, as every trombone player knows, since Posaune is the German word for trombone, it will be trombones, not trumpets that will be performing an important task at the end of time:
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trombone.
Well, not so fast. Actually, we really don’t have any evidence that Martin Luther ever saw or heard a trombone. With fairness to the enthusiasm of trombone players – and I am certainly one of that number – Luther was using Posaune as a German word for the ancient ram’s horn, the shofar, to distinguish it from his use of the word Trompete which he used when translating the Hebrew word chatsrotsra, or the Biblical metal signal trumpet.
But never mind, we still have that delightful phrase, “the last trombone,” to enjoy, one that was once lofted at me by a conductor at a Boston Symphony Orchestra rehearsal, “Last trombone! Please, a little more legato. Thank you.” I looked around; I guess I WAS the last trombone, third in a row of three, a bass trombonist. So in 1996, when I was putting together my production company that oversaw the publication of many of my CD recordings and music editions, I decided to call it Die lezte Posaune. The Last Trombone. And, so, it is now the title of my blog.
In 1996, I launched my website, yeodoug.com, where I have posted hundreds of pages of articles and resources for trombonists and other musicians. Part of my website has been the What’s New? section, where I have posted information about new items on my website as well as commentary on events that I wanted to share with readers. After a long and immensely satisfying career as bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (1985-2012), I retired in order to write several books and have more time to travel and spend time with my family, my wife, daughters, and sons-in-law. But God had other plans and my retirement was short-lived. I flunked retirement and accepted the position of Professor of Trombone at Arizona State University (2012-1016). As a University Professor, I was engaged in recruiting new students for our program 24/7/365 and turned to Facebook to let people know about our program. Truthfully, I never understood Facebook. The format, while helpful while I was at ASU in letting people know about our Trombone Studio activities, didn’t seem to be a format that interested me on a personal level. The reasons for this will be a subject for another post, but when I decided to try retirement again and retire from ASU last month – this time to write several books (which are now under contract and have deadlines), travel, and spend more time with my family, my wife, daughters, sons-in-law (plural) and grandchildren (yes, plural as well), many of my then current and former students asked me to join Facebook so they could know what I am doing. Sorry, but Facebook isn’t in my plans, but as I thought about it, I realized that I do wish to share some commentary with friends and family and others who might be interested. Those who know me know that I can’t say hello in fewer than 5000 words so Twitter just wasn’t going to cut it. After a lot of thought, discussion and prayer, I’ve decided on this blog.
So, what is this all about? I’ve explained the title, The Last Trombone. As to the whole point of the enterprise, I wish to use this blog as a platform to offer some thoughts on three broad subjects that are represented in the logo photo above: Life, Faith and the Trombone.
The first photo is sunrise in the Sierra Estrella in Arizona. It’s the view from my front porch. I live in an area of the world that has exceptional beauty, and one of my favorite activities is hiking with my wife in the great National Parks of the American west. This beauty inspires me in a lot of ways. These mountains remind me of so much of life – beauty, tranquility, peacefulness, inspiration, challenge and much more. This I wish to share with you.
The second photo was taken at the Kotel, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, where I found myself praying earlier this month. Our trip to Israel will be the subject of future posts, but this photo, with my Bible open to Psalm 147, represents the commentary I will offer about my Christian faith, how it informs everything I think, say and do, and how the intersection of that faith with my life in the public square has shaped my life.
Finally, I will be talking about the trombone; the third photo shows a 19th century form of trombone, a buccin, from France. I’ve been playing the trombone for over five decades. You don’t get a lot of five decade periods in a lifetime. So here is an opportunity for me to share thoughts about this great instrument, and comments about a few others instruments and musical ideas as well.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the inspiration for the format of this blog. I commend to you the excellent blog by Dr. Micah Everett, Assistant Professor of Trombone at University of Mississippi, The Reforming Trombonist. Micah’s blog is inspiring, and full of wisdom and information about faith and the trombone. I’ve been enjoying his blog for quite awhile and hope that The Last Trombone will likewise have something to say in the public discourse about Life, Faith and the Trombone. Thanks for joining me in the journey.