"Expert describes models and their special uses in modern
symphony orchestra and band."
The work of a modern symphony or opera orchestra trumpet
player is highly exacting. In addition to technique, tone,
and range he must be prepared to play the various
instruments indicated in the scores - brass instrument
varying in pitch and bore. This is not for the purpose of
avoiding the difficulties of transposition, but to
facilitate the execution of technical passages, to overcome
problems of intonation, and to produce the particular tonal
quality which the type of composition prescribes.
Not all players agree on the type of instrument that
should be used for certain compositions. For instance, the D
trumpet prescribed in Bach oratorios was originally played
on a low D trumpet, which instrument was used with a shallow
smaller mouthpiece in the extreme high register. Symphony
men of today are not accustomed to playing this type of
instrument and could not afford to retrain their embouchure
just for the occasional use of these low-pitched
instruments. For this reason, most Bach oratorios are today
performed on a high D trumpet, and extremely difficult
compositions, like the "Christmas Oratorio," the Bach "B
Minor Mass, " etc., are generally played on the piccolo
trumpet in high F, or piccolo trumpet in High G, or the
piccolo trumpet in High Bb.
It is a recognized fact that composers do not always
write the trumpet part in the proper pitch (favoring the
open tones of an instrument as the old masters did to
facilitate the execution of the part or to produce the right
tone quality); instead they sometimes follow the road of
convenience by just writing the trumpet part in the key in
which the composition is written, taking it for granted that
a trumpet player know show to transpose and will select the
right kind of instrument, as he sees fit. Others take it for
granted that every player uses a Bb trumpet (which is
predominantly used in Germany and Russia), while other
composers who lived in France or Austria where C trumpets
are mostly used have written most of their parts in C.
The instruments are described as follows, with notations
on how they are used by leading symphony artists.
Piccolo Trumpet in High Bb
This instrument is not very much used but is well suited
for the performance of Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto No. 2,"
also for the "Christmas Oratorio," and Bach 'B Minor Mass."
We build these instruments in two bell sizes - one on the
style of the regular trumpet and the other with a
comparatively large bell, resembling a flugelhorn bell. This
instrument with a large mouthpiece is used by George Mager,
first trumpeter of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, in most of
Trumpet in C
Every symphony trumpeter must have a C trumpet available
and should use it a good part of the time - if not
altogether. In France, C trumpets are used exclusively in
symphony orchestras, and to a great extent also in Germany
and particular Austria. The trumpet section of the Boston
Symphony Orchestra is famous for it fine performances on C
trumpets. A good many modern compositions are very strenuous
to play when written in the high register and a trumpeter
can perform these parts with greater ease and more
effectively by using a C trumpet rather than forcing the
high tones on a Bb trumpet. Our leading trumpet players are
using C trumpets more and more. The instrument is
particularly effective in Wagner's "Parsifal Prelude,"
Strauss's "Thus Spake Zarathustra," "Symphonia Domestica,"
Tone Poems and other compositions; Brahms' symphonies
numbers 1,2, and 4; Mendelssohn's "Italian" and
"reformation" symphonies; Dvorak's "new World;" Debussy's
"festivals;" Stravinsky's "Fire Bird;" in Respighi's "Pines
of Rome," and all chamber music, because of the light
singing tone of the instrument.
Generally built of 50% conical and 50% cylindrical bore
tubing. This instrument is used for concert and dance work
and because of its sure response in attack and its heroic,
martial tone, is best suited for heavy fanfare music,
flourishes and other staccato work. It is, therefore, the
most practical instrument for all-around orchestral work.
(For solo and band work, the cornet should be the
The Bb trumpet is very popular in the United States,
England, Germany, Italy, Russia, and the German speaking
part of Switzerland. In France, Austria, and the French
speaking part of Switzerland, the trumpet players are
accustomed to play C trumpets. In the English and French
speaking countries, brass players prefer instruments with
piston valves (Perinet valves, invented in 1839). In
Germany, Russia, Austria, and the German speaking part of
Switzerland, the musicians use rotary valves (invented in
Modern trumpets are built in various bores and the so
called "Medium" bore (0.453") is recommended for dance
orchestra and other strenuous work. The "Medium Large"
(0.459") or "Large bore (0.462") are with some exception
give preference by symphony men. The "Bore" generally refers
tot eh valve bore alone and does not indicate what tone
quality or timbre is to be excepted from the instrument -
unless additional information is given regarding the size of
the bell and mouth pipe.
High D trumpet
This is another "must" for the symphony trumpeter playing
modern works or oratories by Bach, Handel, etc. This
instrument has a brilliant tone and is very effective in the
high register in Bach's " B Minor Mass," "Christmas
Oratorio," "3rd Suite in D," and most other Bach
compositions; Handel's "Water Music," "Messiah;" Mozart and
Haydn symphonies are played adventurously on a D trumpet
(which blends well with the strings); Beethoven's "7th" and
"9th" symphonies; parts of Respighi's "Pines of Rome"
(written for Bb trumpet but fits better within range of D
trumpet); Purcell's' "Trumpet Voluntary;" Ravel's "Bolero;"
Prokofieff's "Lieutenant Kije" (written in Bb, but backstage
bugle call should be played on the D trumpet); Prokofieff's
"Suite Seythe;" Stravinsky's "Sacre du Printemps" (for 2nd
part of composition), and other modern compositions.
Soprano Trumpet in High Eb
A very important instrument for modern symphony work and
which every symphony trumpeter should own and be ready to
play on quick notice. The instrument is used for
compositions such as William Schuman's "American festival
Overture," Stravinsky's "Sacre de Printemps," (written for D
trumpet but the first part is better performed on the Eb
trumpet, the second part better on D trumpet), Vincent
d'Indy's 'Symphony," Saint- Saerns' "Jennesse d' Hercule."
Soprano Cornet in Eb
While this instrument is rarely prescribed in symphony
scores, it is widely used in all European concert bands - in
England, France, Italy, Germany, etc. It is a very effective
instrument which deserves to be reintroduced in our American
concert bands. In most military bands on the European
continent where Flugelhorns are used instead of cornets,
they also use a High Eb Flugelhorn, which is very effective.
Piccolo Trumpet in High F
The High F trumpet is an important instrument for a
symphony musician and is used today or most of the difficult
oratorio performances, for some of the very high parts in
the Bach "B minor Mass" and for Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto
No. 2." It is the most popular instrument for use on these
compositions. (All piccolo instruments should be used with
smaller and shallower mouthpieces to do justice to both
instruments and player.)