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ClassicsOnline Home » Trumpet Concertos (Famous) (Kejmar)
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Famous Trumpet Concerti
Haydn • Leopold Mozart • Handel • Telemann • Torelli • Marcello
The trumpet has had a long and eventful history, in one form or another, whether to alarm the enemy in battle or to rouse the dead at the Day of Judgement. Fifteenth century princes in Europe saw the instrument as one to boost the importance of a ruler, Matthias Corvinus boasting a band of 24 trumpets and the Sforzas in Milan 18 and a dozen trumpeters are listed in the Salzburg archives in the time of Mozart.
The Baroque trumpet, for which Torelli and his contemporaries wrote, was confined in range to the notes of the harmonic series, so that lower notes were widely spaced and step-wise melodies were only possible at a high register. Where more was required than a mere bugler's summon to the cook-house a player had to cultivate the difficult and virtuoso art of clarino playing, using the upper partials of the series. The technique was developed particularly at the basilica of San Petronio in Bologna, home of so many distinguished instrumental players. Here, in the last decade of the seventeenth century, Giuseppe Torelli wrote a series of splendid pieces for Giovanni Pellegrino Brandi, who was employed for major festivals at San Petronio for some twenty years. Many of these compositoins follow the then established pattern of the Sonata da chiesa (church sonata), with a sequence of movements slow-fast-slow-fast, and were designed to mark the beginning of the Mass.
The sonata by the Venetian writer and composer Benedetto Marcello, here scored for trumpet and strings, is typical of the existing style of instrumental music, both in its sequence of movements and in its use of the solo instrument. A near contemporary of Vivaldi, whom he satirised in his Il teatro alla moda, a Hogarthian caricature of contemporary operatic practices, Marcello and his elder brother Alessandro were gentlemen amateurs in the art of composition, but none the less proficient for that, if less prolific than some of their contemporaries.
Telemann, a friend and successful rival of Johann Sebastian Bach and god-father of the latter's distinguished son Carl Philipp Emanuel, was educated at the University of Leipzig, where he established the Collegium musicum that Bach was later to direct after his appointment as Cantor at the Thomasschule in 1723. Telemann was the choice of the Leipzig city fathers for that position, but he wisely chose to remain in Hamburg, where he spent much of his professional life. On his death he was succeeded as director of music of the five Hamburg city churches by his god-son. In Hamburg Telemann had opportunities to provide music of all kinds, for church, theatre and home. Of his 47 surviving solo concertos, one is for solo trumpet.
Handel, established in England in the second decade of the eighteenth century until his death in 1759, made considerable use of the powers of endurance of the trumpeter Valentine Snow, sergeant-trumpeter to the king from 1753. No trumpet concerto survives, although the oratorios provide copious evidence of Handel's handling of the instrument. The D Minor Trumpet Concerto is arranged by Jean Thilde from a flute sonata, a procedure not entirely foreign to the composer's own economical practice of borrowing from his own and others' music as occasion required.
By the time of Leopold Mozart, father of Amadeus, and for much of his career Vice-Kapellmeister at the court of the Archbishop of Salzburg, the Baroque trumpet had begun to go out of fashion. Its part in orchestral texture was to become much more limited, as the suaver tones of violin, oboe or flute replaced the heroic pretentions of the trumpet. Leopold Mozart's concerto for the trumpet was written in 1762, coming, therefore, at a time when he was already sacrificing his own interests to those of his son, whose genius he had been quick to perceive.
Joseph Haydn's famous trumpet concerto marked a new stage in the development of the instrument. Baroque clarino-playing was something of the past, but now attempts were being made to widen the range of the instrument, which earlier in the eighteenth century had reached unparallelled heights. One later technological development was the keyed-trumpet introduced to Vienna by Anton Weidinger, who had been appointed trumpeter at the court opera in 1792. This instrument, which enjoyed some success until the introduction of the modern valve trumpet in the 1820s, allowed a player to play the consecutive of the scale in the lower register of the trumpet. Haydn's concerto, written for Weidinger in 1796, must have startled contemporary audiences by its novelty. At the first performance of the new concerto in Vienna in 1800 a trumpet melody was heard in a lower register than had hitherto been practicable. Once neglected, Haydn's Trumpet Concerto has now become one of the best known of all concertos.
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Trumpet Concertos (Famous) (Kejmar)