Music Reviews

Dauverne''s Variations, Op. 3 for Trumpet and Piano

François Georges August Dauverné. Variations, Op. 3 for Trumpet and Piano. Edited by Jean-Louis Couturier. Vienna: Doblinger, 2013. DM1455. For purchasing information see the Doblinger website.

This composition by Dauverné is a charming work comprised of an introduction, theme, and four variations. According to the editor, it was most likely composed in the 1830s. The extant source is in the Bibliothéque nationale in Paris and bears the call mark Vm91148. It was written some 20 years before the publication of Dauverné’s Méthode pour la trompette (1857) but contains similar lyrical and virtuosic lines that are contained in the celebrated method. The original edition includes in the title, “non-difficult variations.” As Courturier points out in his commentary, what is “difficult” is certainly a relative matter and that Dauverné viewed this work as not difficult, must speak to his very high level of technical mastery. There are quite a few obstacles that need to be overcome in this work. While the range is modest, an octave and a 4th (D to g’) there are many fast triple and double tonguing passages that don’t fit my view of “not difficult”. Jean-Louis Couturier regards this piece as one of the earliest trumpet and piano works in the French tradition. It is certainly an enjoyable and fun piece to perform and we own Jean-Louis Couturier a debt of thanks for his continued research on this brass repertoire and in particular, for bring out this composition.


-- Jeffrey Nussbaum


Editor's note: Dauverné's historical position and his method books have been addressed a number of times in the Historic Brass Society Journal, most recently in Bryan Proksch's "Buhl, Dauverné, Kresser, and the Trumpet in Paris, ca. 1800-1840" in volume 23 (2008), pgs. 69-93.

Playing Natural Horn Today by John Ericson

John Ericson, Playing Natural Horn Today: An Introductory Guide and Method for the Modern Natural Hornist (Tempe, Arizona: Horn Notes Edition: 2013).

For purchase and further information, click here.

Professor John Ericson, of Arizona State University, has recently published a short e-book designed to introduce the natural horn and its technique to modern horn players. Ericson is a performer and historian, who has presented lectures and published articles for the Historic Brass Society. His expertise is wide ranging, with a particular interest in the development and use of the valve horn in Germany and Austria during the nineteenth century.

Ericson’s goal in this book is convincing modern horn players to study the natural horn and provide them with tools they can use in that study. To that end, he offers several reasons for modern horn players to take up the study of the natural horn: development of accuracy, development of the ear, improved stopped horn technique on modern horn, and a better understanding of musical style (ii). These are all excellent reasons for any horn player to consider adding regular practice of the natural horn to their daily routine.

The book is divided into two main sections. The first section, entitled “Learning the Technique” (1-13), deals with basic concepts (harmonic series, hand-stopping, articulation, intonation, etc.) and equipment (mouthpieces, horns, and crooks). The second section of the book, titled “Music to Build Technique” (14-26), contains etudes written by Dauprat, Duvernoy, and Gallay, all edited by Ericson. The final pages of the book contain advice and suggestions for choosing duets and chamber music, some brief concluding thoughts, and lists of suggested method books and makers of natural horns.

Overall, I am very impressed at the amount of information that Ericson has packed into this book. He touches on a wide range of topics that will help any modern horn player get started successfully on the natural horn. The book contains many high quality color photographs, including clear demonstrations of proper hand technique inside the bell and examples of natural horns and crooking systems. The sections that are of particular interest are those that compare the technical specifications of modern and period horns and mouthpieces.

Natural horns and mouthpieces from the classical period are very different from their modern counterparts. The differences are important because they greatly affect the quality of the sound that a player is able to achieve on the instrument. Ericson provides excellent information regarding the physical dimensions of antique horns and mouthpieces. For example, the book contains a useful chart that compares the cup sizes of some common modern mouthpieces to those of the classical period. The main point of this comparison is to detail the fact that period mouthpieces do not possess back-bores and are typically much deeper than modern mouthpieces. Ericson points out that playing a natural horn with a modern mouthpiece results in a sound that is overly bright, if not strident, and diminishes the ability of the performer to manipulate pitches, achieve authentic articulations, and produce proper trills.

Many modern horn players have taken an old, obsolete valve horn and created their own “natural horn” by removing the valve section from the middle of the instrument. This operation is sometimes called a “valvectomy.” Dr. Ericson points out that the problem with such an operation is that the bell and bore dimensions of modern horns are much larger than authentic natural horns. The resulting problem is that most “valvectomies” produce instruments that don’t play or sound like true natural horns. Ericson suggests that if modern hornists cannot purchase a period natural horn or a replica from a reputable maker, the best solution may be to perform a “valvectomy” on a mellophone that dates from around 1900 because the dimensions of those instruments more closely resemble authentic natural horns.

The musical selections Ericson has included in this book will adequately serve any student of the natural horn in their attempt to develop good technique. They have been well edited, with clear and appropriate articulations. Furthermore, the technical challenges present in the exercises Ericson has chosen will expose players to the kinds of playing that both high and low horn players encounter.

Playing Natural Horn Today by John Ericson will make an excellent addition to the libraries of horn players. It is available as an e-book, in pdf format. It is possible to read and work from the book on your digital device, and you can also print out a hard copy of the text if you prefer to work that way. For those who prefer not to order online, the website includes email and postal addresses for contacting Ericson.

- Eric Brummitt

19th-Century Horn Solos by Mohr and Brémond


Jean-Baptiste Mohr, “3ème Solo de cor,” ed. Pascal Proust (Paris: Sempre piú Editions, 2012). 11,70€ .

François Brémond, “1er Solo pour cor,” ed. Pascal Proust (Paris: Sempre piú Editions, 2012). 13,20€.

Two recent publications of music by Sempre piú Editions have made available some very interesting music from the nineteenth century Parisian horn tradition. They are the “3ème Solo de cor,” Op. 8 of Jean-Baptiste Mohr and the “1er Solo pour cor” of François Brémond. Both pieces have been edited and prepared for publication by Pascal Proust.

Jean-Baptiste Mohr (1823- 1891), as reported in the introduction to this edition, was a pupil of Gallay and served as principal horn in the Paris Opera Orchestra from 1853 to 1883. Additionally, in 1864, Mohr succeeded his teacher at the Paris Conservatory and he is the composer of many instructional works for the horn. Mohr’s “3ème Solo de cor,” Op. 8 is a short piece for horn and piano, comprised of four continuous sections: Maestoso, Larghetto, Allegretto, and Allegro maestoso. The piece includes a wealth of cantabile-style melodic passages and lies mainly in the solo range of the instrument; primarily within the staff. Written for horn in F, the piece is well suited for the natural horn, with the middle sections of the piece being tonally close (in the key of the dominant for the Larghetto and in the key of the subdominant for the Allegretto).

François Brémond (1844-1925) was a student of Mohr at the Conservatory, played in various orchestras in Paris, and like Mohr, became a teacher at the Conservatory. The information included with the edition notes that Brémond played a “cor solo” made by L.-J. Raoux that was fitted with a sauterelle system made by Besson. Brémond taught the natural horn at the Conservatory until 1896, at which point he taught the sauterelle horn until 1903, when he began teaching the valved horn. Brémond retired from the Conservatory in 1922. Brémond’s compositions include works for horn technique in addition to pieces for examinations. The “1er Solo pour cor” is comprised of three continuous sections, much like Mohr’s piece: Allegro moderato, Andante, and Finale, Allegretto. Unlike Mohr’s piece, Brémond’s work is more tonally adventurous and technically challenging. Written for horn in F, the piece begins in F major and transitions to the key of B-flat major at the Andante. In the middle section of the Andante, Brémond makes a nice shift into the parallel minor before returning to the major mode. The Finale returns to the key of F major. Throughout the work, there are several trills and other decorative devices, including a brief cadenza-like passage in the Finale. The editor informs us that Brémond “was known for his beautiful sound and perfect trills,” features which would have been well showcased in a performance of this piece.

Both of these pieces are clearly laid out, with logically placed page turns. The Brémond even includes suggested cuts from the editor for performance should the piece prove too taxing. A visit to the publisher’s website allows consumers to preview the first page of each work and even listen to short audio excerpts in midi format.

-- Eric Brummitt

Facsimile Edition of the Hummel Trumpet Concerto (1803)


Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Concerto a Tromba principale, Facsimile edition with commentary (sold separately) by Edward H. Tarr, HKB Historic Brass Series 4 (Vuarmarens, Switzerland: Editions BIM, 2012). ISBN 978-2-88039-034-1 and ISBN 978-2-88039-036-5

The reviewer has before him a facsimile of one of the most well-known works for trumpet ever written: Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto in E major of 1803, or simply “The Hummel” as most of us know it. It is safe to say, without any exaggeration, that if you are even remotely interested in the history and development of the trumpet that you must absolutely spend some time with this wonderfully-produced full-color facsimile and 20-page commentary. In fact, this publication demonstrates just how inaccurate the common wisdom about the work was before Edward H. Tarr gave the manuscript a fresh and thorough analysis.

I am greatly impressed with the quality of the facsimile itself. Of all the facsimiles I own, this is the one that makes me feel most like I am holding a piece of music history in my hands. The three layers of handwriting (original now-brownish ink, and later additions in red pencil and black ink) necessitated the full-color reproduction and also demonstrate the distinction with which the Editions BIM printers went about their work. Even more impressive is the inclusion of the original fold-out pieces of paper used for corrections – the publisher has taped them in exactly where they are in the original. I have to admit that at times these fold-outs made me feel like a baby holding a pop-up book, so eager was I to see what was underneath. I have only one real criticism for the facsimile portion: for some reason the publisher inserted small red measure numbers on the top corner of each page within the margins of the facsimile. I can understand the interest in numbering the measures for reference’s sake, but they should have been placed outside of the margin so as not to interfere with the original.

The separately-sold 20-page commentary booklet accompanying the facsimile provides all the necessary information for understanding the historical details of the manuscript and its implications for the modern performer of “The Hummel.” Most of the commentary deals with the substantial changes made to the trumpet part in black ink and red pencil. Tarr provides a convenient modern transcription of each of the three versions – original brown ink, black ink changes, and red pencil changes – making for an easy examination of the work’s evolution and performance possibilities. There are other insights into the false assumptions made by modern editions of the work as well. For instance, the mysterious “wavy lines” seen in the Concerto have usually been interpreted as trills, but Tarr notes that these lines differ from the composer’s usual marking for trills. He posits that the marking indicates a heavy vibrato instead. Taken in generally, Tarr’s notes make it clear that every single edition of the Concerto ever printed has errors, some more serious than others. Undoubtedly Editions BIM will print a modern urtext version in the near future, which should rectify this problem once and for all.

I am somewhat less enthusiastic about Tarr’s discussion of Hummel’s use of musical quotations within the work. He and others (notably John Rice in an article in Music and Letters) have argued for a significant number of borrowed thematic ideas within the work from Cherubini and Mozart, as Hummel worked to increase the accessibility and popularity of his concerto. To me the presumed references to Mozart seem more like topical similarities (further see the writings of Leonard Ratner).  If Hummel really is quoting throughout, it would fundamentally change the way in which we think about this composition. Perhaps Tarr is correct and these quotations are there and were intentional, but I remain skeptical. To me these gestures are compositional clichés typical of the style of the time, though the discussion of the E major tonality of the work may hold more water. The remainder of the commentary includes biographical details, an examination of the different handwritings seen in the facsimile, and a discussion of the performance history of the work.

In spite of these few and admittedly nitpicking problems, overall the facsimile edition is a must-own for the aspiring trumpet historian and will provide even the average trumpet player with a great deal of food for thought. Those that teach trumpet at the college level will find this to be a useful and engaging resource for instruction – especially as students prepare the work for performance in recital. The pair of books are reasonably priced at a combined ~$110, which is less than equivalent facsimiles I have purchased in the past. In summation, it is a shame that we had to wait some 200 years for this publication, but now that we have it we should all have a copy on our bookshelf.

-- Bryan Proksch

Adagio et Grande Polonaise Brillante by Georges Kastner

Adagio et Grande Polonaise Brillante by Georges Kastner (1810-1867). Edited by Jean-Louis Couturier. Sempre piu Editions SP0045, 2013.

Georges Kastner, known for his important theoretical writings on instrumentation and also the author of one of the most definitive studies of military music (Manuel General de Musique á l’Usage des Armées Françaises [1848]) was also a gifted composer. The Adagio et Grande Polonaise Brillante for Saxhorn in B flat with piano accompaniment was dedicated to Jean-Baptiste Arban and published by Brandus in 1849 when Arban must have been at a high point of his ability. While the fabled Edison recording of Arban still remains elusive, works such as this Kastner composition can give us some idea of his virtuosity. A full-scale solo work with florid passages and lovely lyrical lines it is 298 measures long and chromatically more adventurous than many works of this period. The piano accompaniment is equally demanding. The composition encompasses a two octave range from F to f”. In Couturier’s editorial notes he explains that Kastner was an early supporter of Adolph Sax’s instrument making activities. Kastner followed Sax’s reforms, in particular the new compositions for military music that followed. The source that Couturier used for this fine and readable edition is Bibliothéque Nationale de France no. Vm103. Jean-Louis Couturier deserves praise for another fine edition in the original French wind music series put out by Sempre piu Editions.

-- Jeffrey Nussbaum

Updated Facsimiles of Bendinelli and Fantini

Cesare Bendinelli, Tutta l’arte della Trombetta (1614), Facsimile edition with Translation and Critical Commentary by Edward H. Tarr, revised and augmented (Vuarmarens, Switzerland: Editions BIM, 2011)
Girolamo Fantini, Modo per Imparare a Sonare di Tromba (1638), Facsimile edition with Translation and Critical Commentary by Edward H. Tarr, revised and augmented (Vuarmarens, Switzerland: Editions BIM, 2009)
[editor's note: the BIM website lists the updated sections as sold seperately, if you already own the 1975 facsimiles - BP]

The importance of Bendinelli and Fantini’s trumpet methods cannot be overstated. Published in 1614 and 1638 respectively, The Brass Press offered the first complete English translations with critical commentary by Edward H. Tarr in 1975. Since that time there has been significant research done on the works and their importance to performance practice by Tarr and several of his students. The Brass Press has now released revised editions of the commentary as well as handsomely bound facsimile editions. The facsimile editions are slightly smaller than their predecessors (they are no longer full-sized facsimiles if you will): Bendinelli was 16”x11” and is now 13”x9 ½ “; Fantini was 14x9 ½ “; now is13” x9 5/16”. The commentaries include the accumulation of new research. The endnotes have been expanded and updated in both editions. They are highly detailed and explanatory: traits one has come to expect from Tarr. The purpose of this review is to compare editions and cite the expansion of information they contain.

Taking the commentary on the Bendinelli first, the reader learns much more about the man’s biography. A sense of his status is revealed in the colorful biographical details presented. For example, one of his daughters became the chief chamber servant of the Queen of France. Another married Michelangelo Galilei, brother of the famous astronomer and lutenist of the Munich court. This new edition presents a nearly full page color reproduction of the votive painting (and a detail of it as well) of Bendinelli praying to the Virgin Mary while a passenger on a boat which was about to enter a dangerous whirlpool on the Danube (the 1975 edition depicted these in black and white). Bendinelli’s activities as a teacher are discussed as well as his travels throughout Europe (including to Nuremburg to purchase eighteen trumpets from Anton Schnitzer). It is mentioned that he had a hobby of building automatic music boxes. In order to better understand the importance of Bendinelli’s method, Tarr discusses the two earlier methods of Heinrich Lübeck and Magnus Thomsen, citing research by Peter Downey.

Tarr’s commentary on the Fantini method is, again, greatly expanded from the 1975 edition. Although the bulk of the scholarship is his own, he graciously cites others who have contributed including dissertations by Peter Downey (1983) and Henry Meredith (1983) dissertation and two articles in our own HBS Journal by Ignio Conforzi from 1993 and 1994. We learn that based upon the organs of the day and their location the likely tuning pitch for his music would have been possibly as high as A=493 Hz(!) and are given details of two recordings of the music (one by Conforzi on Quadrivium and one by Tarr on Christophorous). On the topic of articulation, Tarr presents a detailed yet succinct summary of styles and syllables which illustrates the differences with their modern counterparts. In discussing the military signals, Tarr’s commentary follows upon the work of Downey. Tarr also presents a clear description of the differences between trillo and groppo and how they should be performed. His commentary on the duets focuses mostly on compositional forms and styles rather than aspects of performance.
In order to properly understand the correct way to perform trumpet music from the late Renaissance and baroque periods, it is essential for one to absorb what Bendinelli and Fantini have left for us. These new editions by Edward H. Tarr are the best way to lead us to that understanding.

-- James Miller

Anna Amalia von Preussen's Trumpet Sonata

Anna Amalia von Preussen (1723-87), Sonata 2da colla tromba in D major for trumpet (or violin) and keyboard instrument (harpsichord, piano), edited by Arne Thielemann (Nagold: Musikverlag Spaeth/Schmid 2006) (Edition Immer, SM 50494), 20 euros.

Unbelievable! An original piece for trumpet and keyboard instrument written by the sister of Frederick the Great? Or perhaps it was only copied by her at the age of 12? The indefatigable Arne Thielemann’s detailed preface of this edition contains as much information as there is on the work.

The sonata for “tromba ô violin” is one of four contained in the manuscript Berlin, Prussian State Library, Amalienbibliothek 485. The other three are for violin and keyboard instrument. In addition, the manuscript also includes two concertos for violin and piano or harpsichord, although the solo part is missing from the second of these. The manuscript’s cover bears the date 10 December 1735, the keyboard part 3 July 1737. Thielemann writes: “As she was only 12 respectively [sic] 14 years old at the time …, it is not very likely that she also composed the pieces. It rather seems that she copied and/or transcribed existing pieces for her own musical education.” According to Klaus Hofmann, who published his own edition a year later, it now seems that the sonatas were copied by Anna Amalia’s sister Luise Ulrike. The name of the true composer has not yet been discovered.

However this may be, Anna Amalia, under the tutelage of J. S. Bach’s pupil J. P. Kirnberger, later became a capable composer. She wrote church music, including the oratorio Der Tod Jesu, several chorales, chamber music and military marches. Her music collection has survived under the name of Amalienbibliothek (Amalia’s library). It is on a high level.

The present Sonata seconda is in three movements: [Allegro], Aria: Risoluto, and Menuet. Although the trumpet part, which conforms perfectly to the harmonic series, has a limited range between concert d´ and b´´, it presupposes an excellent trumpeter because of its long phrases with few rests. In addition, the trumpeter must play softly since the accompanying part with few exceptions consists of two single lines of music with Alberti figuration. Chords occur mainly at final cadences. The keyboardist’s right-hand line is usually a second part to the trumpeter’s melody; occasionally the two parts cross.

What kind of piece is this? With frequent repetitions and sequences, it has the character of an etude. It seems more valuable as a training piece, rather than a concert piece. It is highly interesting in any case.

--Edward H. Tarr

Selections from the Musicalische Gespräche (1655-56), by Andreas Hammerschmidt

Hammerschmidt, Andreas. Selections from the Gespräche (1655-56) with Capellen. Edited by Charlotte A. Leonard (Middleton, Wisconsin: A-R Editions, Inc.) 2010 168 pages, ISBN 978-0-89579-686-8. Available directly from A-R Editions. Portions of the text can be previewed on-line.

Charlotte Leonard is no stranger to HBS readers; participants in past Early Brass Festivals will recall her tireless work as the facilitator of reading sessions of choral and instrumental works, mostly from the Lutheran tradition. The pieces in the present volume of A-R Edition’s well-known “Recent Researches of the Baroque Era” series are selected from two important collections by Andreas Hammerschmidt: Musicalische Gespräche über die Evangelia (musical conversations about the gospels) of 1655 and Ander Theil Geistlicher Gespräche über die Evangelia (second part of the sacred conversations about the gospels) of 1656. Of the eight works from these two sources, most include cornetti, trombones, choir, and basso continuo. Several others include strings, and other winds such as clarino trumpets and recorders. The possibility for the substitution of other instruments, especially basso continuo instruments, makes for a flexible instrumentation that one can select from to realize performances of this repertoire. The originals, published in part books, survive as a complete set in Dresden (Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, Musikabteilung, Mus Gri 39, 1 & 2). There are sets in other locations as well. The works were chosen to reflect the diversity of different dialogs and instrumentations used in the Gespräche and to show “the various ways in which capellen were created to supplement and enlarge German Lutheran vocal works during the seventeenth century” (page 163). Hammerschmidt’s contemporary, Michael Büttner as well as his copyists created extra vocal and instrumental parts to add to compositions of this type. This volume is the first to combine Hammerschmidt’s music with Büttners additions. This was a common practice and encouraged by Hammerschmidt himself. The Büttner material (refered to as the Bohn collection) is housed at Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Presßischer Kulturbesitz. Büttner added instrumental sinfonias as preludes and interludes, reinforced and doubled voices (colla parte) and rewrote pieces to turn them into polychoral works.

Leonard provides a thoughtful and organized commentary on Hammerschmidt and how these compositions fit into the liturgical cycles of the Lutheran liturgy. Lutheran cycles are about the weekly gospel readings that drive the order of worship from day to day, week to week and year to year. Following the gospel reading, appropriate music reflected the gospel message and provided a meditation on and reinforcement of that message. Leonard discusses the history of the use of these musical dialogues and offers a detailed analysis of their context and musical style. Each of the eight selections is discussed with relation to its position in the liturgical cycle noted. There are detailed notes on the performance practice including discussion of instrumentation, the cappella, articulation, pronunciation and ornamentation, organ tablature and an appendix that provides tables that show the piece’s place in the liturgical year, the extent of the original instrumentation by Hammerschmidt and the number of parts that were added by Büttner and his circle. There are translations of the texts and six full-page facsimile plates as well as extensive documentation with detailed footnotes. In short, this is a critical edition of the highest quality. The historical commentary and plates take the first thirty-eight pages of the volume with another eight pages devoted to a critical report that outlines source material and other sources and editorial methods. A-R Editions informed me that sets of parts are not yet available for this music, but that parts can be extracted from the score with adequate notice, with the cost varying by size and venue.

The music itself is appealing and dynamic in the concertato style. In other words, there are small elite soloistic forces known as favoriten pitted against larger ripieno forces known as the cappellen. Formidable tutti effects are created when all the forces unite on important stretches of text or particularly dramatic moments. As Leonard points out, Hammerschmidt was second only to Heinrich Schütz as the most important German composer of the seventeenth century. He emphasized the clarity of the text in these works even with rather large ensemble forces. The music is written in such a way that the text prevails as the first compositional priority. For example, in the first selection, Freue dich, du Tochter Zion (Rejoice, Daughter of Zion) there is a capellen of cornetto and four trombones who largely double the voices of the capellen. The tessitura of the capellen instrument forces are therefore the same as the voices of that group and are quite manageable and vocal in style. The favoriten group requires two soloistic cornetti (or violins) and they act as a type of fanfare-like descant above the vocal forces of the SATB vocal ensemble of the favoriten. These cornetto parts stay in the upper register and go up to the occasional high C. The writing for these cornetti are more idiomatically instrumental in character. Naturally, a basso continuo group unites the entire structure. This selection is appropriate for the first Sunday in Advent (four Sundays before Christmas). It reflects the joy and anticipation of the coming season and particular emphasis is give to the portion of the text that proclaims “Hosanna to the Son of David! Praise be to he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Unison rhythms set syllabically leave no doubt about the importance of those words.
Other pieces in the collection vary the instrumental forces and give us a feeling for the wide variety of possibilities that are possible with this genre.

I once asked a veteran early music ensemble director what he would do if he had to start a collegium musicum or early music ensemble from scratch. Without hesitation, he said that he would put together a good choir with a cornett and sackbut ensemble and perform the colla parte repertoire to give the instrumentalists a sense of style. I think that this was exactly the type of repertoire he had in mind. The selections work as church or concert music or with modern or period instruments. There is a great amount of flexibility in what the conductor can do with instrumentation and that consequently makes the repertoire very useful to the changing personnel in college, civic and church ensembles. Brava to Charlotte Leonard for making this beautiful music available to a wider audience once again.

-- Ralph Dudgeon
State University of New York, College at Cortland & Colgate University