American vs. Russian school of orchestral trumpet

Discussion in 'Orchestra / Solo / Chamber Music' started by FlugelFlyer, May 17, 2005.

  1. FlugelFlyer

    FlugelFlyer Piano User

    Dec 15, 2003
    Palos Park, IL
    Please, this is not a "one is better than the other" thread, this is a thread to enlighten my ignorance. I'm a dunce when it comes to orchestras, so please be patient.

    Anyways, I have heard both discussed multiple times, comparing American / Western orchestras to Slavonic / Eastern orchestras. As far as equipment goes, it seems like the west has a preference for piston horns while the east has a preference for rotary horns. Hearing jargon about the orchestras, often times I hear that one desires to play in a Russian or German orchestra without sounding like an American. From what I can tell, it seems like the Russian orchestras put the emphasis on the depth of the sound and strive for a very legato tongue and broad sound while American orchestras put an emphasis on the brilliance of the sound and while not emphasizing sledgehammer attacks, there tends to be a brilliant pop on the notes. Obviously there can't be an exact science, but I speak in general terms.

    Anyways, I konw I'm missing out on a ton, and that's why I need to be filled in. I know both have been discussed before multiple times, but I've never seen my question definitively answered, or if I have seen it, it flew over my head. As my musical tastes change, I'm starting to become more aware of the classical side of things as opposed to just the jazz side of things, so this is somewhat of a new adventure to me.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. robertwhite

    robertwhite Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    As far as I am aware, Russian orchestras generally use piston trumpets. I saw the St. Petersburg (formerly the Leningrad) Philharmonic in Chicago a couple of years ago, and they seemed to all be using piston B-flats.

    The one exception was that the guy playing 1st cornet on the encore ("Death of Tybalt" from Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet") picked up a piccolo for the long, legato passage near the end that has the high concert 'C' in it. At any rate, this was an incredible brass section.

    There's tons of recordings of Russian orchestras out there to show you what people mean when they say "Russian style". Check out the Leningrad Philharmonic under Evgeny Mravinsky. Some good pieces to get a feel for it could be: Glinka's "Russlan and Ludmilla" overture, Borodin's "Polovetsian Dances", Tchaik. symphonies, Shostakovich symphonies, Prokofiev symphonies, etc.

    Lastly, Timofei Dokshitzer is the foremost example of a "Russian" way to play trumpet.
  3. davidjohnson

    davidjohnson Piano User

    Nov 2, 2003
    the russian recordings i have display more vibrato the other 'national styles'. the timbre is bright, even edgy. sometimes tuning is optional! sounds like they have fun! i couldn't play that loudly.

  4. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    The examples of Russian playing that I have known in an orchestral context have been traditionally best exemplified in the old Leningrad Symphony set of Tchaikovsky symphonies, 4,5, and 6. That used to be the recording that one would point to to say "Now, that's Russian!"

    Here's a monkey wrench to throw into the discussion: have the Russians, with the number of immigrants that they have had, succumbed to any loss of tradition in their brass playing style or does it still sound like it did fifty years ago? My recent experience hearing about the Bolshoi Ballet in Northrup Auditorium a few years ago tells me no. Apparently, the conductor wanted very loud, pin-pointed playing from the Twin Cities freelancers that played in the pit for those performances of Swan Lake. Of course, the conductor was a Russian.

    I don't remember any Russians or Poles posting here, at TM, but I know there are a fair number of Finns that might have a hint of what's going on musically in Russia.

  5. Ai_Dygress

    Ai_Dygress Pianissimo User

    Apr 1, 2005
    Well, as with anything, doesn't anyone take ideas from a new culture and "graft" it in with their own to create their own unique sound. Sure you can play as the director wants, or how the music is written, but preconceptions and past experience is always enhanced as you grow and what situations occur.

    I am probably wrong, but eh well, I'm used to that :-P

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