Chez Cornet

I had the honor and pleasure of teaching at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory for two weeks back in the mid 1990′s at the invitation of Mravinsky’s legendary trumpeter, Veniamin Margolin. In addition to hearing some of the loudest trumpet students anywhere (Brantissimo!), I also enjoyed many vodka soaked conversations with Prof. Margolin covering stories of the old Leningrad Philharmonic, our students, and the state of world trumpet playing. A pattern emerged in these conversations: names such as Bud Herseth, Maurice Murphy, and Peter Masseurs were always identified by Margolin as “great trumpeters” while names such as Maurice André, John Wallace, Timofey Dokshitzer, and Reinhold Friederich emerged as “great cornetists”. It was obvious that this distinguished Russian orchestral trumpeter considered all trumpet soloists as “cornetists”, in spite of rarely performing on our conical cousin.

This made me pause. . . are all soloists cornetists at heart? Is the range of technique needed to perform solo works by Berio, H.K. Gruber, Max Davies, Tomasi, and others a throwback, of sorts, to the extended virtuosity of Kryl, Staigers, and Clarke?

Taking this thought one step further, might the collection of instruments that emerged in the second half of the 20th Century (Eb, G, piccolo A/Bb, flügelhorn) be an unconscious attempt to counter the brilliance (and volume) of our Bb and C trumpets with a more cornet-like intimacy appropriate for most solo and chamber music settings? Could the same be said of the use of the harmon, cup, and plunger in our favorite jazz clubs?

Food for thought. I think that I might try eating at Chez Cornet tonight. I hear that the doodle tongue is excellent.

Written August 22, 2009

Last updated October 22, 2010  

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