36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 075: My trumpet's Baroque


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 75 — My trumpet's Baroque
16-October-1971 (Sat.)


Spent day practicing and reading. I’ve been reading more here [in Vienna], than I have in a long time. Enjoyable.

First chamber music concert. Expensive seat. Small string ensemble with Ed Tarr, world famous trumpeter (D-trumpet). Really good. Whole concert was enjoyable.


Reading. Reading is good. Enjoyable. Great way to relax.

Routine. Nothing much happening again. My routine appears to be settling in. I say that I practice, but I remember saying that the practice rooms were closed on weekends. Could that have been before school started? Not certain.

Chamber concert. I didn’t know the performer (Edward Tarr) but I enjoyed the concert. I don’t mention the pieces played but if it were a D-trumpet (a small, higher-pitched trumpet) with a string ensemble, my guess is it could be Baroque. Let’s see.

Survey says (Wikipedia). A Google search on Edward Tarr (b. 1936) brings me to his Wikipedia article—Tarr is an American trumpet player and musicologist, and is known for pioneering the revival of Baroque trumpet performance practice. He taught Baroque trumpet in Basel, Switzerland from 1972 to 2001. So, he was in the Vienna area. Certainly, he was an excellent player.

Performance practice. Performance practice is the technique and performance of music of a specific period (for example, Renaissance or Baroque) on the instruments of that period in history—exactly as if the music were being played in that time period. If you can ever get to see this type of performance, do so. It will amaze you.

A natural horn
Baroque trumpets. Early Baroque trumpets were natural horns (no valves), just like the natural horn. Rotary valve trumpets appeared later. Playing a natural trumpet without valves would be incredibly difficult—did Tarr play on a natural trumpet? Perhaps. I did find a Sonata for Trumpet and Strings in D Major by Baroque composer, Joseph Arnold. That might have been the work. If it weren’t for Google, I would not be able to find any of this. Pictured left is a natural horn with no valves.

The first wind instruments
Science. For the scientifically inclined, or if you are teaching to young students, it is interesting to think about natural, no-valve brass instruments. These instruments consisted of a length of tubing, coiled so that it could be held, and played by "buzzing" into a mouthpiece that would produce vibrations and a musical pitch. Think of those Ricola Alpen horns you see on the commercials. That pitch is the natural note and resonance of the length of tubing. As you tighten your lips, you can play higher notes that are related to the base pitch (called the fundamental). This series of pitches is called the overtone, or harmonic, series. In the low register, the pitches are farther apart, getting closer together as you go higher. All I will say, is that it would take a superhuman to play music on these instruments. Composers did write for these instruments. Usually, for orchestras, where the brass just played punctuation (ta-ta-dah___). Ok, that's enough.

Pictured above right are the ancestors to natural horns—animal tusks and horns into which you blew to make a sound—probably for going into battle, sending a message like "We're coming to kill you! Run away!" You know, a lighthearted musical message.

Very interesting stuff. I used to teach a bit of acoustics and science to Jr. high school band students during my teaching days.

By the way, if the trumpet was
Baroque, why didn’t they fix it? (LOL, a little humor goes a long way.) Winking

It’s a fascinating world out there with a lot of history and interesting facts. Enjoy.


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