Blog > Instruments of the Orchestra X: The Trumpet
by Maureen Buja | June 16th, 2015

standard Instruments of the Orchestra X: The Trumpet

Natural Trumpet

Natural Trumpet

The next of the brass winds is the trumpet, which developed much on the same lines as the horn: first a simple structure, then with the addition of valves, an instrument more suited for ensemble work was created. The process of taming an instrument meant for the outdoors for use in an indoor space took many centuries. This natural trumpet from the mid-18th century still has its decorative tassels. The trumpet would have been played by someone standing. The wrapping around the tube hides a block of wood that supports and separates the tubes. See the video of Alison Balsom below for a beautiful example of a trumpet with additional tuning holes being played.

In this painting of Gottfried Reiche, chief trumpeter for Johann Sebastian Bach in Leipzig, we can see how the length of the trumpet has been curled so that it can fit in his hand better, and, so that it can be more easily played indoors

As with the horn, by the mid-19th century, the trumpet had valves and could more easily become part of the orchestral ensemble.

Gottfried Reiche, chief trumpeter for J.S. Bach in Leipzig

Gottfried Reiche, chief trumpeter for J.S. Bach in Leipzig

The trumpet is rarely used for delicate melodies in orchestral music because the woodwinds can handle those. It’s used, on the other hand, for driving melodies, fanfare-like melodies, and points of high tension. Even when it’s supposed to be soft, as in Leroy Anderson’s Trumpeter’s Lullaby, there’s still an element of fanfare:

Anderson: Trumpeter’s Lullaby (Catherine Moore, trumpet; BBC Concert Orchestra; Leonard Slatkin, Conductor)
Top Ten modern Trumpeters include the following:

David Guerrier

Leopold Mozart: Trumpet Concerto in D Major: II. Allegro moderato (David Guerrier, trumpet; Orchestre de Paris; John Nelson, Conductor)
Håkan Hardenberger

Ruders: Reveille – Retraite (Håkan Hardenberger, trumpet)
Alison Balsom

Philip Smith

Terry Everson

Jens Lindemann

Tine Thing Helseth

Modern Trumpet

Modern Trumpet

Haydn: Trumpet Concerto in E-Flat Major, Hob.VIIe:1: I. Allegro. (Tine Thing Helseth, trumpet; Norwegian Chamber Orchestra)
Ryan Anthony

Matthias Höfs

Important trumpet works:

Joseph Haydn – Trumpet Concerto

Henri Tomasi – Trumpet Concerto

Hummel: Trumpet Concerto

Hindemith: Trumpet Sonata

Vivaldi: Double Trumpet Concerto in C

Concerto for 2 Trumpets in C Major, RV 537: I. Allegro (Ludwig Guttler, trumpet; Mathias Schmutzler, trumpet; Virtuosi Saxoniae)
Arutunian: Trumpet Concerto

Clarke: Suite in D Major , V. The Prince of Denmark’s March

Handel: Eternal Source of Light Divine

Handel: Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, HWV 74: Eternal Source of Light Divine (Eberhard Buchner, tenor; Berlin Chamber Orchestra; Dietrich Knothe, Conductor)
One interesting use is in Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 from 1933, which also includes an important part for trumpet. This was written for Alexander Schmidt, the principal trumpet of the Leningrad Philharmonic. Listen, in particular, to the last minute of the last movement where the trumpet adds its flourishes.

Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 35: IV. Allegro con brio (Denis Matsuev, piano; Timur Martynov, trumpet; St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra; Valery Gergiev, Conductor)
Birtwistle: Endless Parade

Birtwistle: Endless Parade (Philippe Schartz, trumpetBBC National Orchestra of Wales; Jac van Steen, Conductor)

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