Is the trumpet repertoire weak?

Discussion in 'Wise Talk!' started by Ralph, Aug 3, 2005.

  1. Ralph

    Ralph Pianissimo User

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    Hmmmmmmmmmm. I may get seriously flamed with this one. Since I have at least two well known and respected professionals listening to me, don't you envy, even a little, the violin and piano players that have such a vast repertiore available to them? Trumpets with valves, or even keys, is a newer instrument than either piano (keyboard) or violin. No doubt that has a lot to do with the extent of the repertiore, but don't you wish there were more big concertos and other works? There's more music than I'll ever learn, but I want more. Where are the Brahms 2nd piano concerto, Beethoven violin concerto, 27 (or is it 28) Mozart piano concertos, and 32 Beethoven piano sonatas for trumpet?

    I'll duck now. :-?
     
  2. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Forte User

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    I think many players will agree with you on this one.

    I have thought for many years that if Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, etc had all written concertos for the trumpet with the same frequency as they did for piano or violin, the trumpet concertos of that period that we do have would hardly be played.

    There are many concertos being written in modern times, but many of these are being specifically written for the likes of Hakan Hardenberger, John Wallace and other world class virtuosos, meaning that they might not be getting the performances they might deserve due to the advanced nature of the trumpet part.
    The other aspect of many of these concertos, in my opinion, that has not helped the popularisation of them is the genre in which many of these composers write their music. Many audiences like a good tune and composers such as Harrison Birtwistle seem to think that tunes are the last thing they should ever write - if it isn't "clever" music they aren't interested.
    If a composer does write an accessible trumpet concerto (Malcolm Arnold's springs to mind) many orchestras will be reluctant to program these pieces - why takes the risk, when the Haydn is an audience favourite?

    If I am being honest, if I never hear the Haydn or Hummel again, I will be quite happy - I have only heard two live Haydn performances that I thought made the piece a great piece of music, despite having heard many players perform it. I have yet to hear a performance of the Hummel that makes me think that the piece was anything more than a novelty concerto written for an unusual instrument of the day.

    But that is just me, I am sure there are many people out there who actually like these pieces.
     
  3. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Bingo!

    You're right, Tmike, but I'll qualify my view to say that there are too many medoicre performances of these pieces because they're begun too early without people doing a real study of the cornet repertoire. I think that's the stuff that lets one work out the kinks of learning to interpret music in a classic style.

    Sadly, we don't have the romantic repertory except for what, the Verdi piece for F trumpet, and the Boehme concerto. I know there's more and I'm hoping the more knowledgeable among you will fill in the gaps.

    As for why the great romantic composers didn't write for us... well, I don't think Brahms was interested in writing for cornet because he simply didn't know anyone that ad the type of technique associated with the kind of artistry of someone like Joachim and others for whom he wrote music. Collectively, cornetists were still fussing with that new Arban method which, you all remember, was conceived because there was no real unified way of playing. It was all kind of haphazard.

    If there was to be been major writing for us it should have come from France and Italy where the cornet was establishing a foothold in orchestral writing. At that time there wasn't much going on in England for us until Sir Edward came on the scene before and during the Victorian era but by that time we're into the 20th century.

    No, I'm afraid we were a parlor instrument and not really taken seriously until much later. My question is how about Copland? Bernstein? Britten? Walton? persichetti? Mind you, I'm talking about full length concerti.

    I think maybe the focus was on jazz with the trumpet by that time and people like Harry James, who could have played anything, didn't take an interest in having a classical piece written for them the way Benny Goodman did. See what I mean. that's what it would have taken.

    G-d bless Doc who has basically done more to get stuff written for us that anybody else during his peak years. Shoot, how about that duet he had written for him and me by Steve Paulus? You guys should learn that piece, you'd enjoy it if you've got the lip. He also had the Tull concerto, the Worley and others written for him.

    Wow, what a rant! Gotta go! No time to edit, sorry!

    ML
     
  4. wiseone2

    wiseone2 Artitst in Residence Staff Member

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    Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Rachmaninoff and Lizst wrote great concerti. They have in common one thing......they were virtuoso performers who wrote solo vehicles for themselves. Their instrument had been perfected for centuries.
    The valved trumpet is a "Johnny-Come-Lately." There are lots of Clarino works, but concertos for trumpet in it's present form are rare.
    The cornet was the solo instrument of choice. Clarke, Williams, Levy and a bevy of soloist/composers wrote for Cornet and Band. There were no soloists playing and writing for the trumpet until the twenties. It is a pity Ives or some other composer of the period did not write a solo work.
    Today's player/composers like Vizzutti and Ewazen are filling in the gap in the literature.
    Wilmer
     
  5. Clarino

    Clarino Mezzo Piano User

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    Wilmer makes a good point here, a lot of the best concerti were written by men who played the instrument they were writing for(with some obvious notable exceptions). Until recently, there were few virtuoso trumpeters who were also prolific composers. I know Arturo Sandoval has written a concerto for himself, we can only hope that today's great trumpeters such as Wynton, Sergi, Manny, Wilmer and Bud all take the time to put their personal touch to the trumpet concerto repertoire.



    Don't like to criticise your monarchial history Manny, but Queen Victoria died in 1900 or 1901, so to say the Victorian period was in the twentieth century is a bit off! :-) That said, do you know if Elgar wrote any decent solo stuff for trumpet? I don't know of any, and if there was a concerto I'm sure I would have read about it by now (I've read a lot about the history of the Halle Orchestra recently, and Elgar has always been a favourite particularly when Barbirolli was in charge)
     
  6. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Forte User

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    Any chance of some more information on this piece, please?
    Publisher?
    Difficulty?
    Tune?
    Playable?
    Audience Friendly?
    Instrument?

    Always looking for new music (am trying to obtain a couple of Vizzutti solos at the moment) and this might be a good addition to the repertoire. All I will then need is a fool willing to take on the other part :D

    I suppose we can all take heart from the fact that we are not tuba players - name 5 tuba concertos! :lol:
     
  7. Ralph

    Ralph Pianissimo User

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    Romantic and classical music are one on the cornerstones of modern western culture. Have we exhausted all our resources? Will the likes of Beethoven's 9th symphony never be matched, ever? This goes a little beyond the topic at hand; ie, the trumpet repertoire, but it plagues me.

    Is it all just financially motivated? Are the best composers writing songs for Britney Spears (or whoever is the lastest craze)?

    Wilmer; Manny; ever thought about composing?
     
  8. Clarino

    Clarino Mezzo Piano User

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    Ralph Vaughn-Williams
    Edward Gregson
    Martin Elerby
    Jim Curnow
    Elizabeth Raum


    Name five...........Hang on a minute, this isn't that topic!
     
  9. CGUM

    CGUM Pianissimo User

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    I've watched this topic with some interest since in recent months I've been questioning our repertoire. Which I think is a little unfair. I mean the trumpet we know and love today is only a little more then a hundred years old. The Haydn and Hummel concertos, though written in the late 1700s, were not discovered and performed till the 1950s or so. These pieces in itself are recent discoveries. Okay,sorry for going off on a tangent.

    I just feel to really see a surge of large compositions for trumpet we might have to wait. Hakan Hardenberger, John Wallace, Ole Edvard Antonsen, Tom Stevens, and etc. This is the bar that was set in the past twenty years and then it will be raised again. Maybe in 15-20 years college students will be playing Turnage, Birtwistle, and Berio on a regular basis. Who truly knows?

    As an afterthought I remember Tom Stevens saying after hearing a recent high school graduate play parts of the Berio Sequenza in a masterclass, which he did very very well, that when the piece was written that he hoped that he would see a high school student tackling and performing a piece like that. I hope I quoted Mr. Stevens appropriately on that. But I do believe that's what he said and I agree with it.

    CG
     
  10. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Forte User

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    This is actually one of my nightmares. I have heard a huge amount of Birtwistle and have yet to hear a single one that I would class as worth listening to, let alone one that I would want to inflict upon an audience.

    My biggest problem with a lot of contemtible (sorry) contemporary music is that the composers seem to be writing what they feel the audience should be listening to, rather than what the audience might actually want to listen to.
    I admit that at the time, composers like Bach were not as popular, nor regarded, as they are now (he was the 3rd choice for Kappelmeister in Liepzig), but much of the music he was writing was not designed for audiences, rather he was writing for a congregation who were actually there for the mass, not the music.

    Whilst at university (Huddersfield, which is a university with a great deal of contemporary music, including a three week festival every year, which I attended and performed in many times) I had the discussion that a lot of contemporary music is only popular due to recording technology. If Birtwistle hadn't made so many CDs of his stuff, would anybody have heard of it? Would any orchestra program it? If all you had to go on were the reviews of a distant performance, would that encourage you to hear these pieces?

    I have listened to a huge amount of contemporary trumpet pieces (and further afield, other instrumental pieces and orchestral works) and I often find myself in the position of thinking "very clever, but what was the point, apart from writing a technical piece?" Even when the composers have been kind enough to include listening guides, so you can hear what they are attempting to recreate.
    There are modern trumpet writers writing music that is playable and audience friendly (it has a tune :-o ), yet these pieces are shunned by musical society because, God forbid, somebody might actually leave the building having enjoyed the music.
    Or so it seems.

    Whilst at university I had the chance to work alongside some contemporary composers (Birtwistle, Maxwell-Davies, Ligeti, James MacMillan, and others) and we often got chatting about their compositional techniques. Some said that they wanted to "shock" the audience. No question of letting an audience enjoy the experience, or having their own thoughts about the piece. The composer had a fixed idea of what they wanted to do, which was basically to be talked about. So long as they could come up with 20 minutes' worth of waffle about the deep meaning behind the piece, the contemporary music nuts were happy. If you could write a good enough meaning behind the music, you could write whatever crap you wanted in the actual piece.

    This has turned into a bit of a rant - apologies all, back to the topic in hand.

    How about a list of concertos that might not be known to the trumpet playing populus, but you think more players should discover?

    Malcolm Arnold
    Edward Gregson
    Eric Ewazen
    John Addison
    Joseph Horovitz
    Elgar Howarth
    Philip Sparke
    Henri Tomasi
     

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