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ClassicsOnline Home » BAROQUE TRUMPET (THE ART OF THE), Vol. 4
The Art of the Baroque
Trumpet, Vol. 4
Little is known about the early life of Joseph Arnold Gross. He was born
in 1701 and died in either 1783 or 1784. In 1739 he was appointed Kurfürstlicher
Hof-trompeter (Electoral Court Trumpeter) in Munich. Like another famous
trumpeter – Schachtner, the friend of the Mozart family – Gross was also an
excellent violinist. In 1746 he was granted an increase in pay under the
condition that he serve as Konzertmeister in ballet performances. A year
later he was appointed Spielgraf, with the job of co-ordinating the
activities of itinerant musicians in Bavaria, his area of jurisdiction. Such
musicians were required to be licensed in order to play for weddings, fairs,
and other festivities – and the fees for these licenses were a welcome source
of extra income for those court trumpeters, including Gross, who occupied the
position of Spielgraf until it was abolished in 1775.
Among the works which Gross is said to have
composed are two hundred Aufzüge (processional fanfares) and the present
Trumpet Concerto in D major, which survives
Johann Michael Haydn, the younger brother of Joseph Haydn, served two
Salzburg archbishops for more than forty years as organist and composer
starting in 1762. He was of a more retiring nature than either his brother or
Mozart, but was nevertheless highly respected by his contemporaries. Towards
the end of his life he was even made a member of the Swedish Academy of Music.
When years later Franz Schubert visited Haydn's grave, he proclaimed, 'May your
calm spirit be with me, good Haydn, and though I cannot be as calm and clear as
you were, no one on earth venerates you more sincerely than I do.'
Michael Haydn's Trumpet Concerto No. 2 in C major, which seems to
date from the composer's early years in Salzburg, has only two movements. Two
other trumpet concertos which share this feature – Haydn's own No. 1 and
Leopold Mozart's, both in D – were originally parts of serenades. Thus this
particular work, too, may have been part of a serenade. It is also possible,
however, that it was sounded during Mass, for it was customary in Austria to
celebrate Mass in a most lavish manner, with instrumental sonatas or concertos
between the Epistle and the Gospel, until such excesses were abolished by the
reforms of Joseph II, following the death of Maria Theresia in 1780.
Whatever its origin, this particular concerto is one of the most
difficult in the entire repertory. Not only does it ascend frequently to e’”
above high c’” and once even to f’”, it also has long melodic passages,
beautiful but taxing to the performer, as well as daring leaps, especially in
the second movement. The original performer may have been the Salzburg court
trumpeter J.B. Resenberger, about whom Leopold Mozart once wrote, '[he] is an
excellent trumpeter especially renowned for his high register, the
extraordinary purity of his sound, the quickness of his runs, and his fine trills.'
All these qualities are necessary for the execution of this concerto. With two
demanding cadenzas of his own, Eklund has even added to the work's virtuosity.
Like the younger Haydn, Johann Melchior Molter was attached to one court
all his life, with the exception of a period of political unrest (1733-42),
during which time he served at the court of Eisenach. He became a violinist at
the court of Margrave Carl Wilhelm of Baden-Durlach in 1717; two years later
the residence moved to Karlsruhe. On full pay, Molter was twice sent by his
employer on long study trips to Italy; the first period between 1719 and 1721,
after which he was appointed Hofkapellmeister, the second from 1737 to
1738. During his first Karlsruhe period he composed many cantatas and oratorios,
most of which have been lost. His instrumental output, however, has survived.
It includes much chamber music and nearly fifty concertos for various
instruments, including nineteen for flute, six each for violin and clarinet,
five for oboe and three for the trumpet. If Molter was influenced in his early
period by central German cantors and their polyphony, as well as Vivaldi, his
later works do not deny the influence of the Mannheim school.
Molter's three trumpet concertos seem to have been composed in rapid
succession around 1750 for the court trumpeter Carl Pfeiffer, who is known to
have served between 1738 and 1763. Of the three, it is the Concerto No.
2 in D major, a work in the style gallant, that stands out by virtue of the
singing quality of the melodic material found in its first two movements. Here
frequent semiquaver triplets betray the work's florid style, between high
baroque and pre-classical; sustained passages in the high register probably
made it diverting for the Margrave, but fiendishly difficult for his soloist.
As with other of Molter's concertos, the vivacious, entertaining third movement
in AABB form is rather brief, the solo instrument now functioning as primus
Johann Wilhelm Hertel was a modest, industrious musician faithfully
serving as Kapellmeister at the north German courts of Strelitz
(1744-53) and Schwerin (from 1754). His compositions link him with the Berlin
school of the Bendas, the Grauns, C.P.E. Bach and Quantz. In 1790 the
lexicographer Gerber rated him zu unseren geschmackvollsten Komponisten (among
our most tasteful composers).
Although the second and third of Hertel's three trumpet concertos were
composed for the Saxon trumpeter Johann Georg Hoese or Hese (1727-1801), who
received his court position in Schwerin in 1747, the Double Concerto in
E flat for Trumpet and Oboe seems to date from around 1748, during
Hertel's Strelitz period. Both solo instruments are treated as equals, with the
natural trumpet's lower register furnishing the outer movements with their
thematic material; otherwise the high register, as usual, provides the
instrument's main field of activity. The trumpet is silent in the middle
movement, a charming, aptly named Arioso for oboe. The work's
transparent structure results from the fact that the string accompaniment
rarely exceeds three parts: either the two violins run in unison and the viola
is independent of the bass, or the violins are divided and the bass is doubled
by the viola part. Such a structure is often to be found in works of the Berlin
Georg Philipp Telemann was the most prolific composer of his generation.
He wrote more than a thousand cantatas in at least 31 yearly cycles (as opposed
to J.S. Bach's approximately three hundred cantatas in four or five cycles), 46
passions, twelve masses, more than twenty operas, and countless instrumental
works. His principal positions were Municipal Music Director in Frankfurt
(1712-21) and Music Director of the five main churches in Hamburg (from 1721).
Stylistically, he strove for accessibility and clarity and in some respects can
be seen as a precursor of musical Classicism.
The elegant Trumpet Concerto No. 2, in which the customary
strings are replaced by woodwind instruments, seems to have been written around
1730. At least the surviving manuscript parts, sent by the composer to Dresden,
were copied around that time; it was Telemann's custom to send works to cities
and courts throughout the country. A gem of chamber music, the concerto was
written in the Italian style. Here the trumpeter must be flexible in all
registers and not dominate the ensemble. A modern style of playing with
equality of sound in all registers would be out of place here; in all baroque
music, in common with the voicing of historic organs, the trumpeter must think
of his entire range as being shaped like a pyramid, with a solid foundation in
the lower register and delicate, non-obtrusive high notes. As with the
preceding Hertel work, he is silent in the next to last movement, a bucolic Siciliano.
When George Frideric Handel arrived in London for good in 1712, he found
a thriving trumpet tradition, which had been founded in Purcell's day.
Twenty-two of his operas and eighteen of his oratorios contain significant
trumpet parts, not to mention famous works such as the Water Music of
1717 or the Royal Fireworks Music (1749).
The prominent solo trumpet part in the overture to Handel's opera Atalanta,
first performed in a lavish production on 12th May 1736 as part of the
extended festivities for the wedding of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and
Princess Augusta of Saxe-Coburg, is said to have been composed expressly for
Valentine Snow (d. 1770), Sergeant-trumpeter from 1752 but a leading figure in
London musical life before that. The story goes that Handel used this work to
welcome Snow back to his own opera company after the trumpeter had performed
for several seasons with a rival group, the Opera of the Nobility. This work,
although 'only' an opera overture, could be termed a trumpet concerto. Its form
– a French overture comprising a slow section in majestic dotted rhythms and a
fast fugal section plus a graceful dance movement (here a gavotte) – was
to become the model for English trumpet concertos written by the next
generation of composers including those by Humphries (1740), Mudge (1749), and
Edward H. Tarr
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BAROQUE TRUMPET (THE ART OF THE), Vol. 4