Bradley Lehman wrote (December 22, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] Rather than just guessing what a (modern) corno da caccia sounds like, listen to Ludwig Güttler's recordings. He has used one in his Brandenburg 2, and in a Christmas disc of Bach's (and other) chorale preludes with various organists. Also, in his recording of cantatas BWV 143/BWV 14/BWV 51 conducted by Rotzsch and Pommer. I'm fond of that warm, mellow sound in all of these discs.
Clarification: in that cantata BWV 143 recording they use three of these corni da caccia together. In cantata BWV 14 there's one. In cantata BWV 51 Güttler plays his normal modern trumpet, by contrast.
Dale G edcke wrote (December 23, 2004):
Dodging the controversy between Brad Lehman and Thomas Braatz concerning who knows best, please permit me to get to a more productive issue.
Can either or both of you gentlemen direct me to several recordings made with corno da caccia played by different artist, so that I can hear what the varieties of tone are? Ludwig Guttler, as suggested by Brad, is one artist. Are there others?
Not only does the quality of the instrument construction affect the tone, but different mouthpiece geometries can also make a big difference. And musicians frequently choose a mouthpiece design that is specific to their own taste.
There are plenty of CDs that provide the opportunity to hear the Baroque Tromba, and many more that use the modern piccolo trumpet. But, it is more difficult to identify CDs where a Corno da Caccia is employed.
Bradley Lehman wrote (December 22, 2004):
Dale Gedcke wrote:
< Dodging the controversy between Brad Lehman and Thomas Braatz concerning who knows best, please permit me to get to a more productive issue. >
I don't think that's what it was, at least from my side. I merely mentioned three Bach CDs by Ludwig Guttler that I enjoy, in which a corno da caccia is used. Another delightful one is Guttler's Händel CD (Berlin Classics 11392) including the F major concerto for two groups, HWV 334. Four corni da caccia chortling along through that piece.
As for reactions, my recommendation then got turned somehow into TB's usual upset diatribe: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/11400
against the idea that practicing musicians actually know something that can't come from armchair speculation. His last paragraph was especially patronizing and misleading, sticking a fake quote into my mouth, and telling me (against list rules) what I should have said if I were a moron.
I really don't see any of this as a debate between Thomas Braatz and me. Rather, it's TB asserting in a monologue over and over that he knows better than all practicing musicians do, on all musical topics. I'm just one of the straw men he tries to beat up along his path. I'm just a convenient target to take his spewed flak in the face. Right away in that posting #11400 he took a condescending shot not only at me, but at the musical values of Ludwig Guttler himself. TB needs to appear more authentic himself, somehow, than Guttler is; and to do that he needs to make Guttler look dishonest (or at least as silly and misguided as the Rundbogen folks)! Hence his disparaging remarks against Guttler.
< Can either or both of you gentlemen direct me to several recordings made with corno da caccia played by different artist, so that I can hear what the varieties of tone are? Ludwig Guttler, as suggested by Brad, is one artist. Are there others? >
Leonhardt's recording of cantata BWV 143 uses three of them, natural (valveless) corni da caccia, played by Ab Koster, Bob Stoel, and Knut Hasselmann. Two authentic 18th century instruments there (German and Austrian), plus one modern copy. Listen especially to the bass aria, movement 5, where all three of these guys are pitted against a bass singer and timpani and continuo.
< Not only does the quality of the instrument construction affect the tone, but different mouthpiece geometries can also make a big difference. And musicians frequently choose a mouthpiece design that is specific to their own taste. >
Of course. I made some rather poor attempts at cornetto, some years ago, and I recall that the choice of the traditional "acorn" mouthpiece vs the more spread mouthpiece did make a big difference. Likewise for all the various horns and trumpets; the mouthpiece makes as much difference alone as the rest of the instrument does.
But again, that's something for practicing musicians to know more directly than armchair speculators do, just by being there and seeing/hearing these instruments played live, and accompanying them. I have the opportunity next week to spend half a day with a friend and colleague, the trumpeter who's playing cantata 51 with Rilling in March. We just finished our program notes (for our trumpet-and-organ CD) as to why he picks different trumpets and mouthpieces for different compositions, as to aspects of authenticity and sound and so on. He's already demonstrated to me, many times over 20 years, the various things that his mouthpieces do vis-a-vis the instruments he plugs them into. I'll ask him more specifically about his views of the corno da caccia. And I'll believe his remarks ahead of the remarks of people who don't play any of these instruments. I also know a guy I could call at the University of Virginia who makes and plays his own natural horns, if I want to hear this stuff more specifically from a Baroque-instrument specialist.... Got to know him last year by playing the Bach F major mass (BWV 233) together.
Why do I listen to and value the opinions of professional musicians? Because we know how to handle our hardware better than people who (probably) have never even heard the instruments in question played "live" in a room. There are practical tips and tricks that simply don't appear in books and recordings, as to getting the job done well. Balance, breathing, instrument construction, ease or difficulty of playing, and so
I find it absurd that these regular "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not" lectures about proper instrumentation and playing techniques (telling professional musicians how to go do their jobs) come from such armchair speculation, arising only out of recordings and books. It's compounded by that mockery of the very idea that musicians would know our own field.
Thomas Braatz wrote (December 23, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>Rather than just guessing what a (modern) corno da caccia sounds like, listen to Ludwig Guttler's recordings. He has used one in his Brandenburg 2, and in a Christmas disc of Bach's (and other) chorale preludes with various organists.... I'm fond of that warm, mellow sound in all of these discs.<<
This is the problem with Güttler's modern 'remodeling' of Bach's instrument, the 'corno da caccia': he has transformed an originally valveless brass instrument into a modern instrument reconstruction/modification to include valves for greater playing facility. [From the liner notes to Edel 001842 "Bach: Made in Germany" Vol. V/7, p. 12: "By analyzing materials used in old instruments Ludwig Güttler has been able to play a decisive part in redeveloping the corno da caccia, so that trumpeters today have a valve instrument of great versatility at their disposal."] This is just about the same as the 'Bach bow' which was developed for the violin in the 20th century in order to make it easier to play the 'chords' in Bach's solo violin compositions. Or, it would be like saying that the type or quality of plectra on a harpsichord really does not affect the sound the music substantially. 'Plucked' is the same as 'plucked' on any similar instrument just as 'blown' is the saas 'blown' on any brass instrument. So if you are fond of the 'warm, mellow sound' along with Güttler's use of vibrato which I find entirely out of place in Bach's music, that is your problem and reveals your personal bias regarding Bach's instruments, a bias which has little or nothing to do with real historical research regarding these matters, nor does it give any credit to those brass instrument makers and players who do make and play 'authentic,' valveless corni da caccia.
Why not prefer to use a piccolo trumpet instead of a tromba that is a close copy of an original instrument? You seem to be suggesting that the sound made by these instruments is just about equal in quality, or even that you would prefer the piccolo trumpet over a close reproduction of a tromba.
You can spare your condescending comments like 'rather than just guessing' and instead simply state: "because I believe that all trained musicians know more about these things than I do, I also accept explicitly and unquestioningly whatever they tell me about how 'authentic' their instruments are and the 'baroque' techniques they use to play them."
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (December 23, 2004):
[To Dale Gedcke] There is another point to this problem as well. That is having valves on a valveless instrument. The Corno da caccia (I like the German version of the name [Waldhorn] better, for it [to me] better denotes the instrument and its use and intentions) was and is a valveless instrument. Thus to have any valves on it at all would be problematic.
Another issue is the practice of having a Trumpet player playing a Horn instrument and making technical discussions about it. Not that I am saying that Trumpeters should not play Horns, but rather that the technical aspects of both instruments are way different, let alone a Horn instrument without valves. I could see it if a person that could play an older Trumpet (one without valves) made some technical remarks about the Corno da caccia, but not one that has had no experience with such an instrument. It would be much the same (at least to me) as if a singer (who has spent most if not all his/her life singing) made technical remarks about the construction of a Piano, let alone an Organ.
Dale G edcke wrote (December 23, 2004):
On Dec. 22, 2004, David Lebut wrote in response to Thomas:
"Actually, it is a Horn instrument. "Corno" is "Horn" in Italian. "Tromba" is the Italian for "Trumpet". The so- called "Hunting" (or "Natural" or "Wood") "Horn" was a Horn without valves, pitched and written the same was as the modern French Horn or Horn in F. The "Hunting Horn" (Corno da caccia) came in any shape and size--from straight, long sheets of metal or wood, to those curled, valveless Horns so often depicted in pictures of the Hunt."
No doubt, "corno da caccia" translates into "hunting horn" But the question of its tone relates to whether it has a) a conical taper from mouthpiece to bell like the modern French Horn, Fleugelhorn and Bb brass cornet, or b) a much longer section of constant tube diameter between the leadpipe and bell, like the Tromba or the modern trumpet.
The drawn-out conical profile yields a more mellow sound compared to the thicker sound of the modern trumpet. There is a similar comparison between the modern Euphonium (Mellowphone) and baritone. The former has the more conical profile. That is why it is often called a Mellowphone.
Skilled trumpet, cornet, and fluegelhorn players can usually identify which of those instruments is being played just by hearing the tone, although it is not always obvious. The average listener probably cannot easily make that determination.
Does anybody have accurate historical documentation on which class of bore profile the corno da caccia that Bach employed fell in? I think Thomas Braatz contended it is in the trumpet class.
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (December 23, 2004):
[To Dale Gedcke] Actually, the instruments you used (the Flugelhorn, Euphonium, etc.) are in no way at all similar to the Corno da caccia. According to Dolmetsch's Music Theory Online, the Corno da caccia and the modern French Horn are basically the same instrument, the difference being one has valves and one does not.
This is one of the problems, BTW, that I have with Trumpeters performing Horn concerti, especially those of the Haydn or Mozart type that use the Waldhorn. The same thing could go for the Natural Trumpet, an instrument used by both Haydn, Mozart, and Hummel in their Trumpet Concerti.
So, in essence, what Mr. Braatz was talking about and labelling as the Corno da caccia was really the Natural Trumpet. This also was a valveless instrument, but closer to the Trumpet than the Corno da caccia was.
Thomas Braatz wrote (December 23, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>Leonhardt's recording of cantata BWV 143 uses three of them, natural (valveless) corni da caccia, played by Ab Koster, Bob Stoel, and Knut Hasselmann. Two authentic 18th century instruments there (German and Austrian), plus one modern copy. Listen especially to the bass aria, movement 5, where all three of these guys are pitted against a bass singer and timpani and continuo.<<
These instruments in Leonhardt's Consort are given as follows:
"Austria 18th century, Germany late 18th century, after Mayence Alexander"
They are described in the liner notes as "Hunting horn" or "Jagdhorn" or "Cor de chasse" which means that they are not really 'corni da caccia' after all. The instrument used here in the recording is the 'corne du chasse' or also known as 'corne par force' and called the 'hunting horn,' not the 'Italian trumpet' or 'hunting trumpet' as explained yesterday. It would appear that the musicians in Leonhardt's Consort were not at all clear about this matter and confused the two types of brass instruments that Bach used (which would be like confusing trumpets and horns in a modern orchestra.)
In Leonhardt's recording of BWV 14, Leonhardt has Hermann Baumann, one of the world's greatest horn players, play an instrument called a 'corno da caccia' but in reality Bach did not score it for this instrument (there is an autograph part which clearly states 'Corne par force' which is the instrument that Leonhardt incorrectly used in BWV 143.)
For BWV 109, Harnoncourt uses a 'tromba da tirarsi' but the part that Bach added later designates a 'Corno da caccia' in the NBA, but the actual original part, the facsimile of which I am looking at, calls for a 'Corne du Chasse.' This is not too surprising since generally 'Corne du Chasse' is taken simply as the French translation for the Italian designation 'Corno da caccia' (also known as the 'Italian trumpet' or in German simply 'Jagdtrompete' or 'Hunting trumpet.')
BWV 14 and BWV 109 are properly played by the 'corne du chasse.' BWV 65 also carries the designation: "Festo "Epiphan: Concerto á 2 Core du chasse. 2 Hautb. Da caccia. Due Flauti.." What does Harnoncourt do with this? He has these parts played by 'corni' which are natural horns, but not the 'corni da caccia' (of the trumpet family) which Bach calls for. Does it matter if the sound of a tromba differs from a corno, or if a 'corno da caccia,' a valveless tromba-like instrument which is coiled, differs in sound from the sound of a natural horn? According to some experts, it appears that it does not.
The valveless 'corno da caccia' belongs to the trumpet family of brass instruments.
The valveless 'corne du chasse' belongs to the horn family of brass instruments.
Thomas Braatz wrote (December 23, 2004):
Dale Gedcke wrote:
>>No doubt, "corno da caccia" translates into "hunting horn" But the question of its tone relates to whether it has a) a conical taper from mouthpiece to bell like the modern French Horn, Fleugelhorn and Bb brass cornet, or b) a much longer section of constant tube diameter between the leadpipe and bell, like the tromba or the modern trumpet.
The drawn-out conical profile yielda more mellow sound compared to the thicker sound of the modern trumpet. There is a similar comparison between the modern Euphonium (Mellowphone) and baritone. The former has the more conical profile. That is why it is often called a Mellowphone.
Does anybody have accurate historical documentation on which class of bore profile the corno da caccia that Bach employed fell in? I think Thomas Braatz contended it is in the trumpet class.<<
Yes, as determined from an analysis of museum instruments from Bach's time, the 'corno,' sometimes referred to as 'Naturwaldhorn' [natural Waldhorn] has a conical bore at its various pitches and lengths. The 'corne du chasse,' also known as 'corne par force' is likewise conical, but very narrow. The bore of the 'corno da caccia' or 'trompe de chasse' as well as the 'corno da tirarsi' is cylindrical.
Ken Edmonds wrote (December 23, 2004):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< This is one of the problems, BTW, that I have with Trumpeters performing Horn concerti, especially those of the Haydn or Mozart type that use the Waldhorn. The same thing could go for the Natural Trumpet, an instrument used by both Haydn, Mozart, and Hummel in their Trumpet Concerti. >
Haydn and Hummel wrote concertos for the keyed trumpet, not the natural trumpet. These works are not playable by any form of valve-less trumpet. Leopold Mozart wrote a concerto for the natural trumpet. A very difficult one, but not that musically interesting. His son did not write any trumpet concertos.
Bradley Lehman wrote (December 24, 2004):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< Another issue is the practice of having a Trumpet player playing a Horn instrument and making technical discussions about it. Not that I am saying that Trumpeters should not play Horns, but rather that the technical aspects of both instruments are way different, let alone a Horn instrument without valves. I could see it if a person that could play an older Trumpet (one without valves) made some technical remarks about the Corno da caccia, but not one that has had no experience with such an instrument. It would be much the same (at least to me) as if a singer (who has spent most if not all his/her life singing) made technical remarks about the construction of a Piano, let alone an Organ. >
I agree. The allegation being made here about the corno da caccia, taken to a logical conclusion, is an extraordinary one. It is this. The B Minor Mass (first half, 1733) has a part calling for "cornu du caccia". All recordings of the BMM employing any manner of conical horn are then categorically wrong, according to the allegation, because the instrument in question must be a specific cylindrical one. That, despite all sorts of confusing issues of nomenclature in Italian, French, German, and English (at least).
And, according to the additional premise that a certifiably pedigreed instrument of exactly the right diameter and length offers the only valid way to be "authentic" enough with the music (a premise with which I disagree, by the way...), such that we are not allowed to enjoy or learn from any performances done otherwise, I therefore must desist listening to a couple dozen recordings of the BMM that I was otherwise quite happy with. Those recordings were misleading me as a consumer, as I didn't notice such a fine distinction that must be absolutely crucial to (and indeed the most important factor in) the appreciation of Bach's music, properly. All because a person who doesn't demonstrably bring any background as either a historiographer or player of trumpets/horns asserts that all these musicians and academic researchers are dishonest (or whatever), or too stuck in practical habits to know any better. He might be right, might not, but that needs to be demonstrated with evidence and with agreement on broader philosophical issues (see below) as the premises of context.
Meanwhile, I don't buy it. I'm trained to be skeptical in such matters, and not simply to take the word of people who may have an odd agenda coloring their statements. I'm interested in the truth, not merely allegations that musicians are clueless, and that consumers must be properly shielded from the nonsense that musicians try to slip through. Restrictive suggestions of that nature need corroboration of evidence, and sound reasoning that is agreed upon by independent scholars who have studied the material. I'm tired of watching a bunch of guesswork go by. So, to find out what's really going on here with the corno da caccia in Bach's music, I'm going to go read Ulrich Prinz's article that is explicitly about this topic of the instrument for that movement of the BMM.
Or this article by him:
Or probably even better, his recent book pulling all that stuff together:
I plan to start with that last one, as it's presumed to be comprehensive (450 pages) and is published by the same firm as the NBA is. If that doesn't satisfy me, I might look back to the earlier ones. Prinz, after all, did his dissertation and quite a bit of later work in these specific issues of instrumentation in Bach's music. His entries "Horn" and "Trumpet" in the Oxford Composer Companions: J S Bach (1999) are also excellent summaries of the basic issues of nomenclature and scaling. If this scholarship is already out there, it at least deserves better distribution among general readers.
It might indeed turn out to be true that all current performers of the BMM have continued to get it wrong, historically, and that there's trickle-down of these same problems into the cantatas. Musicians might choose "improper" instruments (later valved incarnations of the brass instruments, or different brass instruments altogether) for practical or artistic reasons quite apart from ignorance of the issues; ignorance and tradition aren't necessarily the only factors in play here.
But this, then, leads out to several even broader issues.
- How important, in the big picture, is the pedigreed instrumentation among all the other competing issues of "authenticity" in musical performance? (See Peter Kivy's book, Authenticities.) This is a very big philosophical point.
- How important is pure historicism at all, in the reconstruction of old music, among other musical and artistic priorities in this different culture we have today? Many music-lovers, myself included, listen to music for many reasons in addition to (and sometimes instead of) an expectation that everything will be historically reproduced as far as possible. Pedantic historicists are not the only consumers to be served by expert work. Which is more important: musicianship or historicism? Why? Is there some appropriate blend of those two, by percentages? What is it, and why? Says who?
- How pedantically restrictive was J S Bach himself, such that musicians are not allowed to use normal musical judgment and experience in any of the performance practice issues in his music? (That is, how earth-shatteringly horrible are the consequences if musicians happen to get a couple of things "wrong", and why so, according to the aesthetics and practical considerations that Bach himself expected?) How much wiggle-room did Bach as a practical musician allow, such that performers would be worthy even to breathe upon the holy writ of his scores and parts? And, is that binding upon all future performances? Why?
- Whose role is it, appropriately, to offer public correction to expert published work; and in what forum(s)? Why?
- Is it possible to present such proposed correction in a way, respectfully and constructively, that it doesn't merely make musicians and researchers look like disand ignorant dorks who guess arbitrarily at their jobs? Musicians are sensitive folks who don't respond well to being told that they're stupid and unworthy to approach the music they're engaged to perform. They've worked hard at the things they believe they understand. Anyone proposing to correct the field would do well to consider the sociological and psychological factors involved; not merely to offer condescending allegations against motivations and intelligence, and then to be even more condescending against musicians who offer some defense against that.
- What is the nature of a compelling argument, in the field of organology? Is the measurement of extant old instruments sufficient? What if different instruments, altogether, were used 270 years ago and described to some degree, but are no longer extant? (For example, the design of 18th century Lautenwerke, where there's hardly anything to go on today but modern reinvention of them from conjecture.) How can it be proved, if at all, that Bach would have expected and accepted only one particular instrument of particular design, for all current and future performances of his music? Whether that instrument is a corno da caccia or something else related to it, how do we know in any restrictive sense what the "correct" choice "must" be, to avoid violating the music? And, who gets to decide that it has been violated, and why?
I hope it's clear: these are important issues of truth and practice. Doesn't there have to be some sort of philosophical agreement among these broader points, before one can even begin to say what's right and wrong in practical and/or historical approaches to Bach's music?
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (December 24, 2004):
[To Ken Edmonds] Actually, Haydn's famous Trumpet Concerto in Eb is for Natural Trumpet, not Keyed Trumpet.
Ken Edmonds wrote (December 25, 2004):
May I ask where you found this misinformation? I found the following at: http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/notes/67266-N.asp.
[Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) first visited London in January 1791, staying in England until June 1792 and even celebrating his sixtieth birthday in the capital. On his return to Vienna there can be little doubt that he informed his friend, the trumpeter Anton Weidinger (1767-1852), of interesting technical developments that he had witnessed whilst in London. Some English trumpeters were using a mechanical device on their instruments where a retractable tuning slide both corrected imperfect intonation and doubled the number of notes available on the limited scale of the ‘natural’ trumpet. A second invention (now preserved in the Museum of London) was a silver trumpet, made for King George III’s private orchestra, which had ‘vent’ holes drilled in it: these also improved tuning and gave additional notes. Experimental instruments of this kind had previously been known in Weimar and Dresden, but these successful innovations may have prompted Weidinger to develop, between 1793 and 1796, the first fully chromatic trumpet, for which specific instrument Haydn wrote his famous concerto. Although the concerto dates from 1796, it was four years before Weidinger decided to play it in public.
Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat was played in the Burgtheater a few days before Beethoven’s first benefit concert – Weidinger’s was on 28 March 1800 and Beethoven’s on 2 April. The announcement in the Wiener Zeitung of 22 March 1800 reads:
“Musical Academy: The undersigned has been permitted to give a grand musical academy in the Imperial Royal National Court Theatre on 28 March. His intention on this occasion is to present to the world for the first time, so that it may be judged, an organised trumpet which he has invented and brought – after seven years of hard and expensive labour – to what he believes may be described as perfection: it contains several keys (Klappen) and will be displayed in a concerto specially written for this instrument by Herr Joseph Haydn, Doctor of Music, and then in an Aria by Herr Franz Xav. Süssmayer, Kappellmeister in the actual service of the Imperial Royal Court Theatre. Which concert Anton Weidinger, Imperial Royal Court and Theatre trumpeter, has the honour herewith to announce.”
Weidinger’s trumpet was built in the standard military pitch of E flat; three keys covered holes which were strategically placed to raise the harmonics in steps by half a tone at a time (a fourth key would have provided a low B natural – a note which is conspicuously absent from Haydn’s concerto). This concerto was Haydn’s last purely orchestral work, and is scored for a typical late Haydnesque orchestra containing two flutes, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, two orchestral trumpets, timpani, strings and, as its keyboard continuo, a fortepiano, in addition to the soloist. It must have been a novel experience to a disappointingly small audience at the new instrument’s public debut on 28 March 1800 to hear melodies played in the trumpet’s low register.
The first movement is in conventional sonata form; typically for Haydn the second subject reworks the opening theme in the relative minor key – a technique that would previously have been impossible for the trumpet. There are moments when flourishes evoke the old clarino sound in the high register – indeed Haydn even writes ‘clarino’ against the solo trumpet line, suggesting that he anticipated hearing the more vocal style of playing of Baroque times. The second movement’s flowing cantabile, so familiar to us nowadays, gives the trumpet for the first time a lyrical melodic line in its middle octave. The final Rondo demonstrates the technical potential of Weidinger’s new invention, showing that it could be as agile as any other wind instrument.]
Again, this piece is unplayable on the natural trumpet. How do you suggest we play this work without the addition of valves or keys?
Dale G edcke wrote (December 25, 2004):
David Lebut wrote:
"Actually, Haydn's famous Trumpet Concerto in Eb is for Natural Trumpet, not Keyed Trumpet."
Haydn's Trumpet Concerto was one of the first concertos written for the newly developed "keyed" trumpet (1796). It is impossible to play on a valveless Eb natural trumpet. The natural trumpet cannot produce the half-tone and whole tone intervals below the written D at the 4th line of the treble clef. And Haydn wrote a lot of half-tone accidentals for the trumpet in this lower range to show off the agility of the new trumpet in his concerto.
Here is a quote from H.C. Robbins writing on the jacket of a 33-1/3 vinyl record I purchased in the 1950s:
"In 1795 Haydn returned from his second trip to London. ....... The next year, 1796, he wrote his last purely orchestral composition, the Concerto in E flat for Trumpet and Orchestra, the autograph of which (the only extant source) is preserved in the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Vienna.
The development of the trumpet in the eighteenth century represented a step backwards rather than forwards. After the time of Bach and Händel, when trumpets were the princes of the orchestra and assigned brilliant runs in the highest register, the instruments suffered a long decline; players were no longer able to execute agile melodies in the Clarin-register (those notes lying in diatonic progression above the eighth harmonic), and trumpet parts became restricted to fanfares in the lower register of the harmonic scale. The natural trumpet (i.e., without valves) became an instrument of very limited melodic possibilities, and it was obvious that something had to be invented whereby the trumpet could play all the notes of its range. About 1796, Anton Weidinger, Court Trumpeter at Vienna, perfected a new kind of trumpet. A report of this new instrument appears in the Historisches Taschenbuch of 1802, a Viennese history of the 19th century. We read (pp 220F.):
'The Court Trumpeter, Weidinger, has discovered a keyed trumpet, on which can be played all the half tones through two octaves; these sound pure and secure. Really an important improvement; but it appears that, as a result of the keys, the trumpet loses something of its characteristic and prominent strength, and thus approaches the sound of a strong oboe.'
It remained for the invention of valves to eliminate the technical difficulties of the instrument; but Haydn, always ready to try a new experiment, wrote his finest concerto for this keyed trumpet"
AND HERE IS ANOTHER QUOTATION from the Feb. 2004 issue of the National Music Museum Newsletter:
"Several makers experimented with putting keys on trumpets. The Viennese trumpet virtuoso, Anton Weidinger (1766 - 1852), was the most successful. It was for him that Haydn wrote his concerto, which requires a trumpet with at least three keys."
BACK TO MY PERSONAL COMMENTS:
Even today, Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in Eb fits best on a modern, valved Eb trumpet, i.e., a trumpet whose base pitch is a concert Eb. The range of the composition is between the written G below the treble clef and the written Bb above the treble clef. If you try to play this concerto on a Bb trumpet the range is from a written C below the staff to a written Eb above the staff. This composition is very difficult to play on a Bb trumpet, and much easier on an Eb trumpet. I know from first hand experience, because I have played it with both. Virtually all of the professional recordings of this concerto are played on a modern, valved, Eb trumpet.
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (December 25, 2004):
[To Dale Gedcke] Actually, there are equal number of scholars and performers that say that Haydn's Concerto was written for the Natural Horn. I have read where they say that there are many parts of the work that could not be performed on the modern Trumpet (or even the Eb Trumpet). This was also a contention point in the Haydn composer's special hosted by Sir Peter Ustinov. I forget right now who the performer was, but he went into a lot of discussion about the technical points of the Concerto that points to the impossibility of performance of it (or producing the sound intended) on the valved Eb Trumpet vs. the Natural Trumpet.
Also, one would have to look at when the work was written. The advances in Brass instruments did not (according to reseach) take place until Haydn was either very old or dead and buried (early 19th century).
Eric Bergerud wrote (December 26, 2004):
[To Dale Gedcke] In an appendix to the liner notes accompanying the Haydn Trumpet Concerto by Hogwood and the AAM, soloist Friedemann Immer writes that the concerto was composed for the keyed trumpet developed by Anton Weidinger, a friend of Haydn's. Immer remarks:
"The listener, used to hearing just the natural notes of the trumpet, would suddenly have heard notes being played that were not previously possible: it is not difficult to imagine the sensation this must have caused! But audiences then, as now, would have been able to hear that the instrument had its drawbacks - mainly the result of the fact that it was never perfectly developed. It was a very soft tone, quite unlike the trumpet, and there is a marked difference in the sound quality of the individual notes. The success that Anton Weidinger enjoyed when he first performed on his keyed trumpet was undoubtedly due in part to the novelty value of this chromatic instrument. Later, however, the weaknesses of the instrument were criticized with increasing frequency. .... Haydn was perfectly aware of the instrument's weaknesses and composed for it accordingly, making discriminating use of both 'problem' notes and notes that have particularly attractive qualities. The tone of the keyed trumpet cannot, in my opinion, be imitated on a modern instrument."
Obviously Immer believed that the keyed trumpet could do the job because he used it. And it sounds great as does much of Hogwood's Haydn to my ears.
Dale G edcke wrote (December 27, 2004):
[To Eric Bergerud] Eric, thanks for the information below regarding a current recording of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto on a keyed trumpet. I will have to look up a copy of the recording by Immer, so that I can hear first hand the sound of that rare instrument.
I suspect the gist of the TV program that David Lebut watched some time ago was this: The Haydn and the Hummel Trumpet Concertos were written at about the same time for the newly invented keyed trumpet. Both concertos incorporated chromatic notes that could not be played on the traditional natural trumpet of fixed length. But, the sound of the keyed trumpet was uniquely different [like a strong oboe?]. Today, these concertos are typically performed on an E-flat valved trumpet, which has a tone quite different from the original keyed trumpet.
Dale G edcke wrote (January 4, 2005):
This is a quick follow-up for anyone who is interested in the unique sound of the keyed trumpet referenced in my Dec. 26, 2004 reply to Eric Bergerud, viz.,
"Eric, thanks for the information below regarding a current recording of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto on a keyed trumpet. I will have to look up a copy of the recording by Immer, so that I can hear first hand the sound of that rare instrument."
I found the CD through www.Amaxon.com. The particulars are: Joseph Haydn Trumpet Concerto, Horn Concerto No. 1, Organ Concerto No. 1, Friedemann Immer (keyed trumpet), Timothy Brown (natural horn), The Academy of Ancient Music, directed by Christopher Hogwood, Editions de L'Oiseau-Lyre, The DECCA Record Company, Ltd., London, England, 0-28941-76102-6, 417 610-2, 8.43 760 ZK, BA 925.
All the instruments used in the recording of these concertos are period instruments.
The organ concerto is excellent! But, in my opinion, the only other reason for buying this CD is to hear how the keyed trumpet and natural horn sound playing Haydn's concertos. If you want to hear the best performances of these concertos, you should also buy a CD that employs a modern valved trumpet and/or valved French Horn. Let me elaborate on the differences you can expect to hear.
The sound of the keyed trumpet is somewhere between a natural Baroque trumpet, a French Horn and an oboe. There is a very noticeable variation in tone and control throughout its range. Many of the notes start with the burble that is often heard on the attack on a note by the modern French Horn. And one occasionally hears the tone characteristics of a French Horn in the keyed trumpet. The trills are awkward and imprecise. Some notes sound good and others don't. One can understand why the keyed trumpet vanished from use in a short time under criticism of bad tone and inconsistent performance.
Haydn's trumpet concerto requires great skill to perform on a modern, valved, Eb trumpet. One can appreciate that it is much more difficult to play on the keyed Eb trumpet. I tip my hat to Friedemann Immer for his intense effort in attempting to resurrect the keyed trumpet! He does pretty well playing a difficult instrument.
From listening to the keyed trumpet and the natural horn on this CD, it is obvious that the last two centuries have delivered great improvements in the tone, intonation, agility and performance precision of brass instruments. I can appreciate how difficult it was for brass instruments players to achieve a polished performance during Bach's lifetime.
For more information on the keyed trumpet and relevant recordings, go to: http://abel.hive.no/trumpet/articles/keyed_trumpet/.