Baroque trumpet

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Baroque trumpet (replica)
Baroque trumpet after J. Ehe
Gottfried Reiche with a winding trumpet

A baroque trumpet is the type of trumpet that was in use at the time of baroque music (17th and 18th centuries) and is now used again for the performance of such music as part of historical performance practice .

Designs and variants

The baroque trumpet is usually elongated bow-shaped (so-called long trumpet). Its tube is cylindrical, bent twice and almost twice as long as that of a modern trumpet in the appropriate tuning. The most common tones were C and D - for this reason, D major is still considered a particularly festive key today. But B, Eb, E and F were also used as root tones. Shorter, higher-sounding variants were also known as Trombetta .

The tone supply of the baroque trumpet is initially limited to the natural tone series . However, playing aids were common: the short slide for the tromba and the corno da caccia, the long slide for the tromba da tirarsi and the corno da tirarsi. They are indispensable to e.g. B. to play the tones that are not related to the series of natural tones that occur in JS Bach's trumpet parts cleanly and to correct the physically pure but musically impure natural tones. Of course, retuning slurs and retuning loops were also in use.

The distinction between trumpet and natural horn was even less clear in the Baroque than it is with today's variants of these instruments. From around 1700 onwards, the horn began to become independent in terms of its length as it became increasingly conical, while the trumpet continued to expand only shortly before the lintel. The relationship between the two instruments is also expressed in experimental trumpet designs that come close to the horn, such as the round, tightly wound "snail" or "hunter's trumpet" that looked like a small horn, the helically wound " box trumpet " and the "Pretzel Trumpet".

The mouthpiece of the baroque trumpet is cup-shaped. Compared to modern trumpet mouthpieces, the flat rim is striking, which is unusual and uncomfortable for the modern trumpeter. Since this flat edge has no tonal effects, today's trumpeter can confidently use a mouthpiece with the usual rounded edge and the usual cup for his baroque trumpet instruments. Only the mouthpiece shaft has to correspond to the historical dimensions because it creates the baroque sound. Of course, mouthpieces in various sizes are also handed down in the Baroque, whereby the large-scale ones are intended for players in the lower register of the trumpet. In the Baroque era, horn instruments were also played by trumpeters with a kettle mouthpiece, ie with a trumpet mouthpiece. The funnel-shaped horn mouthpiece, which is played exclusively by horn players, was not created until the middle of the 18th century.

The slide trumpet ( Tromba da tirarsi ), which works according to the trombone principle, has also existed since the 15th century . However, the train is not U-shaped here, but a straight cylindrical tube that can be moved telescopically between the mouthpiece and the instrument. This move enables the tromba da tirarsi to have all the chromatic semitones sound cleanly in the struck octave - in which only the triad notes c1, e1, g1 on the natural trumpet can be clearly intoned without a move. For this reason, JS Bach often used this instrument in the final chorals of his cantatas as a cantus firmus reinforcement in the soprano. Correspondingly, under the horns there was a corno da tirarsi ("pull horn") with a longer cylindrical leadpipe to accommodate the train, which is, however, significantly shorter here than in the tromba da tirarsi. Analogous to the difference between Tromba (with a short train) and Tromba da tirarsi (with a longer train), this also applies to Corno da caccia (with a short train) and Corno da tirarsi (with a longer train). In cantata BWV 46 Johann Sebastian Bach demands “Tromba ô Corno da tirarsi”, d. H. "Tromba da tirarsi or Corno da tirarsi". The notes contained in this voice can be played on both instruments. He leaves the choice between the two instruments - and thus the choice of timbre - up to the player. Another four cantatas provide for one of the two instruments.

Probably the most important center of the baroque trumpet building was Nuremberg ; Famous trumpet- making families such as Schnitzer, Hainlein, Haas and Ehe worked here , whose instruments now serve as models for replicas.

The baroque trumpets used today are in the majority of cases not pure natural trumpets, but rather have small intonation holes on the temple. These are not historically proven and also lead to a change in the sound compared to instruments that do not have such aids; in return, various impurities in the intonation can be better avoided. The cleanest solution - both acoustically and historically - for the playability of the musically impure natural tones and those not contained in the natural tone series, but e.g. B. JS Bach's notes nevertheless used, compared to the tromba da tirarsi, is the shorter move for the tromba, which here retains the shape of a natural trumpet - without unhistorical manipulations. Movable like a telescope between the mouthpiece and the instrument, this short pull can correct any impurity. This method is not an invention of the present time, it is already anchored in the Baroque and as a playing technique of the Tromba da tirarsi, which existed in the Baroque parallel to the Tromba. Today's trumpeters who play both modern and baroque instruments often use a modern mouthpiece on the baroque trumpet because it makes it easier for them to start. However, a modern mouthpiece with a historical shaft is better: acoustic measurements show that with trumpet mouthpieces only the mouthpiece shaft is sonically relevant. Traditional baroque trumpet mouthpieces show a simple, straight, conical back bore in the shaft. Sometimes there are stepped bores in the last third of the shaft that round off the sound. With this knowledge, it is possible for today's trumpeters to keep the mouthpiece rim and mouthpiece cup that they are used to, which makes the approach considerably easier and yet does not neglect the historical sound. Only the shaft of the mouthpiece should be different for the baroque trumpet than for the modern trumpet. Here is z. B. a mouthpiece with a removable bowl is helpful.

Clarin game

The baroque trumpet is only capable of melody from the eighth natural tone upwards due to the characteristics of the natural tone series , because only then does a scale arise. The tones below are only suitable for triad figures. Playing in the high, chromatic registers (from the 13th partial) is called clarin or clarino playing and is a hallmark of baroque trumpet art.

The term “Clarino”, which is usually found in scores , denotes the high trumpet register, in line with the older trumpet tradition. The treble clef was usually used for these , while the lower registers were given different keyings like the principal. The designation of the baroque trumpet as "clarino" can be misleading insofar as that in the baroque period it was usually understood to mean the position, but not the independent instrument clarino . When the early clarinet began to appear in scores in the late baroque era , it was also often referred to as "Clarino", which is where its current name comes from.

The player has at least three difficult tasks when playing clarinets:

  • to hit the close together high natural tones safely;
  • correcting physically pure, but musically impure natural tones exclusively with the approach (= "drifting"). A better, calculable method of playing these notes cleanly results from the model of the Tromba da tirarsi: With a shorter slide than with the Tromba da tirarsi between the mouthpiece and the tromba, every musically impure natural tone can be played cleanly on the Play tromba;
  • to generate some tones not occurring in the natural tone series by "driving". This is a doomed attempt, especially because it creates tones on an instrument that cannot be supported by it. So the sound of these notes remains "lazy". In addition, such driven tones can never really be repeated with the same clean intonation; they always remain approaches.

The following figure shows the resulting tone scales of the natural trumpets in C and D:

Baroque trumpet scale.png

The highest natural tone occurring in the baroque trumpet literature is the 24th, the notated g 3 . When Michael Haydn trumpet concerto that the sounding in the mood D a resulting 3 . The first natural tone can usually not be played due to the length of the scale .

The sound of the baroque trumpet is more subtle and more mixable than that of the modern trumpet. The upper range limit of the baroque trumpet corresponds to that of the (shorter) modern trumpet. Extreme highs are reproduced outside of historical performance practice with the piccolo trumpet , which is again much shorter .


Renaissance and early baroque

After the art of pipe bending had been developed around 1400, the development of the trumpet reached a preliminary conclusion around 1500.

While the trumpet was still used by traveling musicians in the Middle Ages, trumpeters increasingly entered the service of the authorities during the Renaissance. The organization in guilds resulted in ever stricter rules, but also ever higher privileges. The trumpet now served the courtly representation and signaling in the army and cavalry - both tasks of high social prestige. Bringing messages to enemy generals was another new task that already fell within the diplomatic area of ​​responsibility and meant further social advancement. After all, trumpeters often had the rank of high court officials or military personnel, while other musicians were among the general service staff. The trumpet had become a symbol of rule and power and was available only to those in power.

A typical trumpet formation from the early Baroque era consisted of up to six trumpets, their parts with from top to bottom

1st Clarin - 2nd Clarin - Principal - Vulgan - Coarse - Lazy

were designated. The three lower trumpeters only had to play a few notes. Most of the music played by these ensembles was not notated, but passed on orally. If notated, then mostly only one part (usually the principal), which the trumpeters, according to the rules of their guild, suspended up to six voices while playing. With additional rules, an 18-fold exposure could be achieved. The trumpet ensemble always included a double timpani , which was also not notated.

The trumpet found its way into art music as early as the early baroque period. On special occasions, such as high church festivals, some princes allowed their trumpeters to play with other instrumentalists. For example, Heinrich Schütz uses the technique described in his composition “Thank the Lord, because he is friendly” ( SWV  45, 1619) of noting a trumpet part, which is then played three or six times and supplemented with timpani. In his Christmas History (1664) he had two trumpets in high clarin range accompany the words of Herod to represent his royal rank. Also worth mentioning is the trumpet-dominated introduction that Monteverdi added to his opera “ L'Orfeo ” in order to pay homage to the prince (house fanfare of the Gonzaga family ) and which finally found its way into his “ Marienvespers ” in a version for Zinken .

High and late baroque

The court orchestra of Kremsier played an important role in the development of trumpet music , where, in addition to the extremely talented trumpeter Pavel Josef Vejvanovský, the composers Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber and Johann Heinrich Schmelzer were able to create high quality music for this instrument thanks to the available trumpet possibilities.

In the late baroque, trumpets were still a symbol of power, but now the council assemblies of many cities also had their own trumpeters. These urban musicians, who belonged to the town whistlers and usually played other instruments, had to blow down from the tower, but were now able to take part in church music relatively often. A well-known council trumpeter of this time was Gottfried Reiche in Leipzig, for whom Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a large part of his difficult trumpet parts, but who was also an important composer for his instrument.

The trumpet choir in Bach's orchestra was usually three-part (Clarino I / II, principal), in rare cases four-part (then Bach sometimes noted “Clarino I / II, Tromba I / II”) with timpani. Often in Bach there is only a single trumpet in the orchestral setting, which at times only has fanfare or cantus firmus tasks, but often also demanding concertante tasks. Handel usually provided for two trumpets with timpani in his orchestra.

The development of the solo concert from Italy meant that concerts for the baroque trumpet were also created in the late baroque period, e.g. B. by Vivaldi and Telemann .

As an orchestral instrument, the trumpet in its baroque form was still used in Mozart's time (mostly in C). Even Michael Haydn wrote his Trumpet Concertos for Trumpet Clarin, his brother Joseph Haydn his then already for keyed trumpet in a completely different, lower register.

With the advent of the keyed and valve trumpet around 1790, the baroque trumpet gradually died out; Here not only the technical requirements and the lack of flexibility with regard to key changes played an important role, but also the new, neighbourhood-baroque ideals of composition and sound. At the end of its era, the older trumpet art was recorded by the trumpeter and composer Johann Ernst Altenburg in his “Attempt at a Guide to Heroic-Musical Trumpeter and Timpani Art” (Halle 1795), the oldest theoretical trumpet school.

When Mendelssohn initiated the rediscovery of Bach's works, he no longer had any trumpeters who could play clarin-blowing. He therefore cast the corresponding parts for the performance of Bach's 3rd orchestral suite with clarinets . Schweitzer suggests that this practice was quite common in the 19th century. It is also not entirely absurd, as the name “clarinet” comes from the clarin position of the baroque trumpet.

Rediscovery in the 20th century

The revival of the baroque trumpet in the 20th century was relatively hesitant, as its playing posed greater problems for those performing it than with other instruments. Up until the 1950s, Bach's trumpet parts were considered unplayable. Solutions were z. B. sought with the development of the piccolo trumpet .

The uncompromising striving for conductors Gustav Leonhardt and Nikolaus Harnoncourt in their complete recording of Bach cantatas in the 1970s was a sensation and revolution, also with regard to the execution of the trumpet parts, which gave impetus to the subsequent occupation with the “old instruments”.

The first instruments reproduced with modern mechanical means had considerable shortcomings. Only through the regaining of baroque craftsmanship (production of hammered, non-rolled brass sheets; hammering and glowing of the bell in painstaking and delicate manual work; clamps, pommel and decorative wreath as sound-forming components, etc.) could replicas be created that shine again the baroque trumpet shine to let.

Well-known works for baroque trumpet

Baroque trumpet player

See category: Baroque Trumpeters


  • Johann Ernst Altenburg : An attempt at a guide to heroic-musical trumpeter and timpani art. Two parts. Hendel, Halle 1795 (facsimile reprint. Antiqua, Amsterdam 1966).
  • Don Smithers : The Music and History of the Baroque Trumpet before 1721. Dent, London 1973, ISBN 0-460-03991-1 (2nd edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale et al. IL 1988, ISBN 0-8093-1497-5 ).
  • Detlef Altenburg : Investigations into the history of the trumpet in the age of the clarin wind art. (1500–1800) (= Cologne contributions to music research 75). 3 volumes. Bosse, Regensburg 1973, ISBN 3-7649-2097-1 (also: Cologne, Univ., Diss., 1974).
  • Albert Hiller: Trumpet music from three centuries (around 1600 - after 1900). Cologne music contributions ISSN  0939-4583 Volumes 1–3, Wolfgang G. Haas , Cologne 1991.
  • Hermann Ludwig Eichborn : The old clarin blowing on trumpets (= Cologne music contributions Volume 7). Wolfgang G. Haas, Cologne 1998, with an essay by Edward H. Tarr , ISBN 3-928453-09-2 .
  • Don Smithers : The baroque trumpet after 1721. Some preliminary observations. Science and practice. In: Early Music. Vol. 5, No. 2, 1977, ISSN  0306-1078 , pp. 177-183.
  • Don Smithers: The baroque trumpet after 1721. Some preliminary observations. 2: Functions and use. In: Early Music. Vol. 6, No. 3, 1978, pp. 356-361.
  • Herbert Heyde: Instrument making in Leipzig at the time of Johann Sebastian Bach. In: Ulrich Prinz (Red.): 300 years of Johann Sebastian Bach. His work in manuscripts and documents. Musical instruments of its time. His contemporaries. Schneider, Tutzing 1985, ISBN 3-7952-0459-3 , pp. 73-88, here pp. 83 ff. (Exhibition catalog, Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, September 14 - October 27, 1985).
  • Don Smithers et al .: Playing the Baroque Trumpet. In: Spectrum of Science . June 1986, p. 126 ff.
  • Don Smithers: Gottfried Reiches reputation and his influence on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. In: Bach yearbook. Vol. 73, 1987, ISSN  0084-7682 , pp. 113-150.
  • Gisela Csiba, Jozsef Csiba: The brass instruments in Johann Sebastian Bach's works. Merseburger, Kassel 1994, ISBN 3-87537-260-3 .
  • Edward Tarr : The Trumpet. Your story from antiquity to the present. 3rd revised new edition. Schott, Mainz et al. 1994, ISBN 3-7957-2357-4 .
  • Gisela Csiba, Jozsef Csiba: baroque trumpets, baroque horns. Instructions for playing on historical instruments. Verlag Merseburger Berlin, Kassel 1997, ISBN 3-87537-272-7 .
  • Gisela Csiba, Jozsef Csiba: The Tromba da tirarsi and its consequences. In: Monika Lustig (Ed.): Trombones and Trumpets. History - acoustics - playing technique (= Michaelsteiner conference reports 60). 19th musical instrument making symposium in Michaelstein November 20-22, 1998. Michaelstein Monastery Foundation, Blankenburg 2000, ISBN 3-89512-116-9 , pp. 93-104.
  • Gisela Csiba, Jozsef Csiba: The Dresden court trumpets of the 18th century. In: Wolfram Steude , Hans-Günter Ottenberg (ed.): Theatrum instrumentorum Dresdense (= writings on Central German music history 11). Report on the conferences on historical musical instruments, Dresden, 1996, 1998 and 1999. Verlag der Musikalienhandlung Wagner, Schneverdingen 2003, ISBN 3-88979-102-6 , pp. 47–63.
  • Lars E. Laubhold: Magic of Power. A source-critical study of Johann Ernst Altenburg's "Attempt at a Guide to Heroic-Musical Trumpeter and Timpanist Art" (Halle 1795) (= Salzburger Stier 2). Königshausen u. Neumann, Würzburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-8260-4116-7 .

Individual evidence

  1. Manuscript of the cantata BWV 46 at, see heading of the trumpet part
  2. Johann Gottfried Walther : Musical Lexicon […]. Wolffgang Deer, Leipzig 1732, p. 168 ("a trumpet, which is blown high or clear. There are many kinds of it: ...")
  3. ^ Albert Schweitzer , Johann Sebastian Bach , ISBN 3-7651-0034-X