I only learned of his existence a few months ago. And now he’s dead. Maurice André, Frenchman, 78, the best trumpeter in the world. Don’t take my word for it; note the length of his obit in The Guardian.
“Solid technique, superb breath control and seemingly inexhaustible stamina” is the obit-writer’s judgment. Herbert von Karajan puts my claim slightly differently: “He’s undoubtedly the best trumpet-player but he is not from our world.”
That’s André the performer but there’s also his influence. He was in great demand for the fearfully difficult playing in baroque works such as Bach’s Mass in B Minor. To expand the limited trumpet repertoire he arranged violin, oboe and other instrumental pieces, then played them on the piccolo trumpet which made high notes more accessible. He even collaborated with the manufacturer, Selmer, in adding a fourth valve to the trumpet which again helped with high baroque notes.
While learning his trade he worked down the mines and this gave him the power to manage this very physical instrument.
Some 209,479 fans have clicked on this 2 min. 27 sec. video of 56-year-old Maurice blasting his four-valve piccolo through the finale of Telemann’s D-major sonata (which looks more like a concerto, but never mind). LEND HIM YOUR EARS
TRIBUTE TO BERNIE Way, way back when BBC radio programmes came in b&w I enjoyed late-night Bedtime With Braden, a comedy show by Vancouver-born Bernard Braden. Insults were a speciality: “And now a song from Bennie Lee whose only musical training consisted of learning to read record labels while they were rotating.”
OK, so nothing moves on a MP3 player. But you too will look foolish thirty years hence when music emerges from an orchestra of ants embedded in the brain of your grandchild.