WATER MUSIC: Handel vs. Telemann

Both George Frederic Handel & Georg Philipp Telemann each wrote a notable musical body of work known as ‘Water Music’—but for very different purposes. Both composers are considered monumental figures of the Baroque Era, & both hailed—at least originally—from northern Germany. Here is a brief look at their ‘Water Music’.

 

Handel’s Water Music

 

The music that came to be known as “Handel’s Water Music” is an orchestral collection comprised of 3 suites. George Frederic Handel specifically composed (or assembled) & premiered this music for King George I of England, in a unique concert setting that was held on the evening of July 17th, 1717—while floating along on the Thames River. There were 2 main boats: the Royal Barge—for the royal audience (the King & his noble guests); & a 2nd barge—for the 50 or so performing musicians. However, London-commoners were also permitted & even encouraged to listen in—by boarding along in their own boats, which they did in vast numbers!

 

The actual purpose of this concert however was deceptively not just for leisure. Rather it was a sort of P.R. ploy: to help regain popular favor for & restore confidence in King George I—as the Londoners were increasingly preferring his son (the Prince, George II) as a hopeful future ruler.

 

The Power of Music…& of Water!

 


Direct link to video on Youtube

 

The King is said to have liked the music so much, that he ordered it to be repeated 2 more times (each time took 1 hour) during that round trip boat ride (to a royal supper in Chelsea). News of this hallmark concert spread quickly throughout Europe, & it soon became referred to as “Handel’s Water Music”. Although Handel tried to keep the music quietly to himself, people would not forget the legacy of this incredible concert-music, & by 1722, the demand for it became so great that it became necessary to be performed again, & with actual frequency. There was also public demand for its sheet music, & it was finally published: in segments (1725, 1729 & 1734); in full (but for harpsichord only, 1743); & finally for full orchestra (1788—well after Handel’s own death).

 

Unlike his later “Music for the Royal Fireworks” (1749)—another suite of music, & by that time, for King George II—Handel’s original scoring of the ‘Water Music’ did not include the instrumentation of keyboards (harpsichord) or percussion (kettle drums) as these instruments would have been difficult to utilize on a listing sea-vessel with limited space. It did however introduce French Horns into an English orchestra for the very 1st time.

 

An aside note: Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks

 

In 1748, England had signed a peace treaty—ending the War of the Austrian Succession. To commemorate it, a grand fireworks display was planned. King George II agreed to having music commissioned by G.F. Handel to accompany the show, however he wanted it performed only on ‘warlike instruments’ (wind & percussion). Handel insisted on including string instruments as well.  For the performance, Handel assembled a band of about 100 musicians—at least 40 of which were string players.  Against Handel’s wishes, the work was publicly rehearsed (tickets were even sold to it for 2/6pense) at Vauxhall Gardens about 1 week prior to the actual main event. Roughly 12000 people attended—causing carriage-wheel gridlock in London for nearly 3 hours!

 

At the actual performance—which took place in London’s Green Park on April 27th, 1749—part of the building structure intended to house the musicians, specifically designed & constructed for just the occasion, caught fire. The weather also did not cooperate & was ‘rainy’…but Handel’s music was a hit & again became legendary!

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The finest recordings of these 2 Handel masterpiece-works (which are often considered closely associated to one another) that I know of & could recommend, would be those by The English Concert—under the direction of Trevor Pinnock. In my humble opinion, that ensemble actually captures the entire Handel catalog better than any other I have ever heard or studied.

 

 

If interested in more on G.F. Handel, please see my blog,

“Handel theRock Star” at this link:

http://peterjblume.com/?m=201207

 

 

Telemann’s Wassermusik

 

In 1723, Georg Philipp Telemann was also commissioned to write a “Water Music” suite. It shared some similarities to Handel’s ‘Water Music’—they were both composed as instrumental music intended for outdoor orchestral performance, & they were actually both written within only a few years of each other. But unlike Handel’s—which was for the Royalty of London England—Telemann’s suite was for the Admiralty of Hamburg Germany; it was also intended to be performed from ON LAND.

 

The purpose of the intended festive occasion was to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Hamburg’s Port-Controlling Department & to honor the fine job they (the Admiralty) had done in securing & regulating Hamburg Port (situated along the Elbe River) as one of the most important harbors in maritime trade, business-Europe. The centenary was marked by a banquet for merchants, sea captains and the city’s mayors and councilors. As part of the festivities, the ships fired their cannons and flew pennants. A local schoolteacher wrote a poem-serenade which Telemann set to music, & then Telemann also supplied this brilliant suite of instrumental “Water Music”.

 

Back then, there were no overhead projectors, video screens, laser shows, or PowerPoint presentations, etc, so the music served as tone-paintings—with a theme: to help depict figures & events of ancient world mythology that were somehow tied to or connected with the sea…& by setting them to popular French style dance rhythms of the day:

 

1. The sleeping goddess Thetis—in a Sarabande;

2. Thetis awakening—in a Bouree;

3. The amorous god Neptune—in a Loure;

4. The jovial god Naiads at play—in a Gavotte;

5. The sportive god Triton—in a Harlequinade;

6. The blustery wind Aeolus—in a Tempest;

7. The pleasant wind Zephyr—in a Minuet with Alternativo;

 

8. The ebb and flow of the tride—in a Gigue;

9. Jolly sailors—in a Canarie.

 

It began with an opening Overture represented the waves of the Sea. Then, as stated in #8, the suite also included paying respect & homage to the ebb & flow of the tide (nautical matters)—important not only to the harbor, but also for regularly cleansing & purifying the extensive network of the drainage canals in the inner city.

The music is said to have made the occasion all the more noteworthy & festive. And again as similar to Handel’s own ‘Water Music’, this instrumental suite too displays great expertise in writing for different string and wind instruments, together and in dialogue. It has also withstood the test of time; & continues to draw awe from the future generations of curious listeners & critics alike. It is said to be incredibly ‘balanced’, which is consistent with Telemann’s own motto; “Give to every instrument its due; the player will be pleased, & so will you.”

 

The finest recording of this Telemann masterpiece-work that I know of & could recommend, would be that of Musica Antiqua Köln—under the direction of Reinhard Goebel, entitled ‘Wassermusik’.

 

If interested in more on G.P. Telemann, please see my blog,

Telemann the Artisan” at this link:

http://peterjblume.com/?m=201107

 

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The audio recording portion (only) of this above video is copyrighted by Peter J Blume, © 2013.  It is of the ‘Air’ from Handel’s ‘Water Music’, arranged for 2 trumpets & both parts performed by Peter J Blume.

 

For more info, please visit my website at:

http://peterjblume.com/

 

Thank you for listening…& for your interest.

-Peter J Blume, 1/2014

 

The Titanic’s Violin

 

I dedicate my humble performance here of this Handel masterpiece to Wallace Hartley, fallen bandleader aboard the RMS Titanic. As we all know, the English-born luxury ship sank during it’s maiden voyage from England to America in 1912, after hitting an iceberg; over 1500 people died because it was believed that the ship was unsinkable & thus because, there were not enough lifeboats.

 

Before the ship went down, Hartley & his fellow musicians from ship’s band had performed on deck to keep everyone calm; he & his band-mates went down with the ship while performing a hymn “Nearer My God to Thee”. Before he drowned though, Wallace had strapped his violin to himself. When rescuers found his lifeless body floating in the water 10 days later, they also recovered the violin.

 

It was sent back to his young girlfriend, Maria Robinson—who had actually given the violin to Hartley as a present on their recent engagement. She kept it in her attic & it was eventually forgotten about. After she died, many of her items were donated to the Salvation Army—including the violin. Like the story of ‘The Red Violin’, it then passed through many hands; eventually it wound up in the possession of a music teacher, who in 2006, came to realize that this might be the actual famous violin.

 

After 7 years of authenticity testing, most experts recently came to agree that this is in fact the real Titanic’s violin! In October 2013, the violin went to auction—expecting to fetch between $3-&-400K; it sold for more that $1.6M! While there have been many other more expensive violins that this, it is interesting to note that the Titanic’s Violin is not even playable anymore—having been exposed directly to 10 harsh days of the elements & salt water. And even when new, its quality was never considered to being that of a concert grade violin; it was more of a memento given to Hartley by his girlfriend/fiancé. He had others—better ones, but chose to bring this violin on the historical 1st voyage of the Titanic—in appreciation to his girlfriend.

 

- researched & essayed by Emily & Peter J Blume, 2013

 

 

Shaken AND Stirred: OO-Derek Watkins

As 2013 comes to a close, I would like to mention the passing of 2 great trumpet players earlier this year:

Derek Watkins & Adolph ‘Bud’ Herseth.

 

 

Derek Watkins (2 March 1945 – 22 March 2013)

Believe it or not, I actually only learned about British trumpeter Derek Watkins—around the same time that he died.  It bewilders me that in my 35+ years of playing the trumpet, for whatever reason, I apparently never came across his name—that is until now.  But I happened to discover him this past year while casually surfing YouTube for some great trumpet videos–& that, I surely found! My very 1st find was of Derek playing a featured trumpet solo on the standard song ‘My Way’ with the James Last (pop) Orchestra—LIVE. It was a bit ‘showy’, but he had an incredibly beautiful tone, great phrasing, nice improv ideas…& then his range–Wow!

 

But even though I hadn’t necessarily heard of Derek by name, I (like most people) had actually heard (& even grown up with!) a bit of his work without ever even realizing it; his trumpet-voice is the sound of the signature line in the ‘James Bond’ theme. In fact, Derek had played on every James Bond soundtrack, from the very 1st ‘Dr No’ to the most recent ‘Skyfall’. But while Watkins is best remembered for his high-note ‘screamers’ on those JB soundtracks, his career in music was way more extensive than that, & his barrage of impressive film credits aren’t limited to 007. His talents accompanied the scores to other such movies as ‘Mission Impossible’,  ‘The Mummy’, ‘Basic Instinct’, ‘Indiana Jones’, ‘Gladiator’, ‘Johnny English’, ‘Superman (1 & 2)’, ‘Bridget Jones Diary’, & ‘Chicago’—where his trumpet solo opens the Oscar-winning film.

 

He often played with orchestras, but was by no means strictly a Classical player; he probably played with them more in a Jazz capacity. He was possibly one of the most versatile (but mainly behind the scenes) trumpeter players the world has ever seen. The great Dizzy Gillespie (RIP) even apparently used to refer to Derek as ‘Mr. Lead’. As a session trumpet player, Watkins earned a reputation as one of the very best in the business. During his career, Watkins played with many big-name A-list acts, including: the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Tom Jones, Oasis, Robbie Williams, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Leonard Bernstein, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, etc .  He made recordings with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & the London Symphony Orchestra, & as mentioned before, he was also a long-time member of that James Last (pop) Orchestra.  He even composed some incidental music for the TV series ‘Midsomer Murders’, & ‘A Nero Wolfe Mystery’. He was also a visiting professor for Trumpet Studies at the Royal Academy of Music.

 

Unfortunately Derek died this past Spring at the age of 68, from cancer. He passed at his home in Surrey England, surrounded by his wife Wendy, their children & grandchildren.

 

 

 

Adolph ‘Bud’ Herseth (July 25, 1921 – April 13, 2013)

Adolph ‘Bud’ Herseth was the principal trumpeter in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1948 – 2001 (a tenure of over 53 years!), & then retired fully from the orchestra in 2004. He performed under many great conductors, including George Szell, Eugene Ormandy, Leonard Bernstein, James Levine, etc, & served under 6 different CSO music directors—arguably the most noted being Fritz Reiner (1953 – 1962) & Sir Georg Solti (1969-1991).

 

During the Reiner years, the orchestra rose to great prominence, due in part to the powerful and precise sound of its brass section. As explained by the Telegraph in London on Sept. 18, 2009, “The orchestra’s rise to fame began with the great Fritz Reiner in the Fifties, but it was during the 22-year reign of the fierce Hungarian Georg Solti that the orchestra became the brawny yet subtle precision instrument that it is today, famed especially for its noble and stupendously powerful brass sound.” A Smithsonian profile of Herseth, published Sept. 1, 1994, offered this description: “The Chicago (Symphony) has long been recognized as one of the world’s great orchestras, and Adolph Sylvester Herseth has had a major role in the evolution of its distinctive sound.” As described in the Chicago Sun-Times, July 22, 2001, “For decades Herseth’s rich, golden tone and powerful yet expressive playing were a cornerstone of the fabled ‘Chicago Sound.’ That brass sound drew worldwide attention to the CSO, and propelled the great American orchestra’s reputation around the globe.” According to an entry on the Chicago History Museum’s online history of the city, the CSO’s “unmistakable sound and high standard of performance helped define the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a world class institution. It also made Chicago an international center for the study of brass instrument performance.”

 

In 1952, Bud suffered a very bad car accident—& his mouth took what could have been a potentially career-devastating hit to the steering wheel.  He had to undergo major dental reconstructive surgery. But his strong will & determination in the passion for his craft helped him to return to his post (at the same high level!) after an extensive rehabilitation.  It also helped that Bud always maintained an incredible work ethic in his own ‘practice’ habits—reportedly practicing around 3 hours every day, even well into the latter part of his career.

 

Herseth was widely regarded as one of the greatest orchestral trumpeters of his generation. Regular concert-goers knew him not only by his golden sound, but also by sight; as long-time Chicago Tribune critic John von Rhein wrote in his farewell piece, “Herseth was the man whose face would turn radish-red when he was scaling the trumpet stratosphere or tossing off a rapid scale passage. Where he found the huge volume of air needed to make a notoriously recalcitrant brass instrument soar like that, Herseth wasn’t saying. That was part of the Bud Mystique.”

 

Adolph ‘Bud’ Herseth was an incredible musical influence to many trumpet players—especially to the generation of us brass players now at ‘middle age’ (& older), when we were growing up. His recordings of the Haydn & Hummel Trumpet Concertos are legendary. Recently I saw an interview on YouTube with Phil Smith of the NY Philharmonic who also spoke very highly of Bud—his extensive impact on Phil’s own orchestral playing & musicality, & even his encouragement for Phil to ‘leave the nest’ in Chicago to try his own hand at a principal trumpet chair in NY; & we NY-ers thank him very much for having given Phil that bit of advice!

 

Herseth died at his home in Oak Park (Illinois), on April 13, 2013, at the age of 91. The position he occupied in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is now named after him – The Adolph Herseth Principal Trumpet Chair.

 

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May the monumental lifetime-contributions made by these 2 great trumpet-giants live on (or at the very least, never be forgotten) in our ever-struggling pursuit to hold onto a ‘culture of quality’ in the dying art, but fine tradition of, LIVE (& high quality) music.

 

Wishing everyone all the best for a Happy & Healthy New Year in 2014.

 

-peterjblume.com (12/2013)

 

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UPDATE!

I have been post-alerted to a 3rd notable Brass player who also passed during the Spring of 2013:

 

David Zauder (1928 – April 16, 2013)

David Zauder was the longest serving trumpeter in the history of the Cleveland Orchestra—39 years.

 

Zauder had been raised in Krakow, Poland & was a Jewish Holocaust survivor—having spent 5 years in the concentration camps of Sachenhausen, Flossenburg, Plaszow & Auschwitz where he was forced to tend a crematorium. When he was 15, the liberated Zauder escaped a displaced person’s camp & talked his way into odd jobs at a U.S. Army camp. With a soldier’s help, he contacted relatives in the US & emigrated to Detroit in 1946, where he first lived with an aunt & her family. He played in the Detroit Concert Band & studied both trumpet & English with its director and Leonard B. Smith. He also studied with Harry Glantz in New York where he played first trumpet for the New York Military Academy. He enlisted in the Army and played with a West Point band for four years. He became an American citizen after his honorable discharge. He was then First Trumpet with the Boston Pops & also played for Broadway shows, commercial recordings, & television.

 

In 1958, Zauder auditioned at Severance Hall for the Cleveland Orchestra. Conductor George Szell said Zauder had no control over soft dynamics and should go home to practice them. A month later, Szell called, gave him a second trial, & hired him. Ten years later, Zauder became the orchestra’s first cornet. In addition to his duties in the orchestra, Zauder helped create the Blossom Festival Concert Band in 1968. He played featured solos in twenty of the band’s July 4th concerts. He also taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music from 1978 to 1995. In 1997, he retired at the age of sixty-five. That year, he won the orchestra’s second annual distinguished service award. Executive Director Thomas W. Morris wrote in May 1997, “Overstating the impact David Zauder has had on The Cleveland Orchestra would be impossible.” Michael Sachs, the orchestra’s principal trumpeter said, “David was truly the glue in the institution… He was phenomenal in his attention to detail, his thoroughness of preparation, his complete understanding of how to make everyone around him sound better.”

 

Zauder died on April 16th 2013, at home in Pine, Colorado, where he’d lived the past six years with his daughter, Karen Zauder Brass, who is president of a Holocaust-awareness & anti-bullying program that talks about her father’s experience in the Holocaust & as a survivor. He was cremated by request, telling his family that he was no better than those who had been cremated at the concentration camps.

 

A triumph of survival & then even success…An incredible Life-story.

 

-peterjblume.com 1/2014

 

Phil Smith to retire from the NY Philharmonic in 2014

It was announced this past week that Phil Smith is planning to retire from the NY Philharmonic in June 2014, after a 35 year tenure as the principal trumpeter there. I was informed of this news via an article posted on the WQXR FM-Radio Station website.

 

Being myself a trumpeter from the NY area, I grew up always hearing about the legend of William (Bill) Vacchiano–as the long-time tenure player with the NY Philharmonic; 38 years! I was fortunate to meet, briefly get to know, & even play along side him in his very senior years–in a community concert-band setting, down at Lehman College in the Bronx; what a great gentleman & teacher he was.

 

I think we often take for granted the great people that come after legends like that. For me, Phil Smith is one of those talents. I definitely went to hear him perform a few times & I fortunately attended a master class that he once gave at the Westchester Conservatory of Music—he always sounded amazing & definitely was also a great teacher, gentleman…& Christian. But to my own detriment, I guess I assumed that he’d always be there. 35 years?–really, has it been that long already? But he even still LOOKS so young! ‘Life’ is just flying bye…& yet HIS time at the NY Philharmonic, like Vacchiano’s, has also proven an illustrious career.

 

I think my all-time favorite recording of Phil Smith is his reading of Aaron Copland’s ‘Quiet City’ with Leonard Bernstein. Not flashy, just incredibly beautiful subtle tone & phrasing; & I have never heard that piece performed better ANYWHERE—before or since.

 

I really like the picture above, which I also grabbed from that same WQXR blog—of Phil with Joseph Alessi (trombone)—who is another benchmark staple of the NY Philharmonic Brass Section. But there is significance to the other photo that I also chose to posted here. It was candidly taken in 2002 at the ITG (International Trumpeters’ Guild convention)—of Phil Smith with Bill Vacchiano; student with teacher, successor with legend.

 

Phil Smith has created a legacy in NY—in his own right. For that we thank him…& wish him all the best as he begins a new chapter as a professor at the University of Georgia’s School of Music.

 

And we await any promising news of the next possible successor,

who will hopefully prove worthy enough to fill such big shoes.

 

-peterjblume.com (11/2013)

Tartini, the passionate & the possessed

Italians often have the reputation as being a very passionate people. They’re passionate about their food, about their wine, about their women…& about their music. Giuseppe Tartini, & the way he lived his life, definitely fit that stereotype.

 

Born in 1692, Tartini is considered to have been Italian—because his hometown of Pirano belonged then to the Republic of Venice, which was a major & powerful cultural hub in all of Europe. Today Piran (located on the Istrian Peninsula, close to Trieste) is actually part of Slovenia—of the former Yugoslavia. His language was Italian, but today, ‘Italian’ is a Piranese’s 2nd language.

 

He indirectly learned to play the violin by getting married—because after he did, he needed to go into hiding; & while he was in hiding, he spent much of his time practicing at the instrument & becoming incredibly proficient at it. This was not merely a nonchalant effort to pass the time by trying out a new hobby; back then, a person could actually make a good living as a skilled musician—so this was probably an actual career choice. So why did he need to go into hiding in the 1st place? Well, it wasn’t just totally because of the age difference between Tartini & his wife (she was apparently under-aged), but probably more-so because at the time he was still officially registered to becoming a priest; & the Cardinal of Venice utilized the ‘underage’ violation as an excuse to actually ‘bounty hunt’ on out after him for breach of vows. Remember, back then ‘The Church’ was very powerful & authoritative.  The charges, however, were dropped after 2 years.

 

But Tartini then actually locked himself away even a 2nd time in order to practice. Apparently in 1716, after hearing Francesco Maria Veracini (another great Italian violinist & composer) perform, Tartini became enraged—so dissatisfied & disgusted with his own playing—that he cancelled all public performances for himself, fled to Padua & went back into years of isolation in order to ‘woodshed’.

 


Direct link to video on Youtube

 

Tartini’s big claim to fame though came by way of even more drama & controversy. During a night filled by a deep sleep, Tartini believed that he was visited by the Devil himself by way of a dream. In this dream, the Devil allegedly sat at the foot of his bed, picked up his violin & played the most amazing piece of music that he had ever heard. There is speculation as to whether Tartini actually ‘sold his soul to the Devil’ in exchange for being able to recall the piece, but Tartini claimed that when he awoke, he immediately ran to manuscript paper & jotted down all that he could remember.  It became known as ‘The Devil’s Trill” Sonata, & so technically demanding, there developed a myth in the 19th century that Tartini must have had 6 digits on his left hand just to play it.  Regardless, the legend of its origins was initially received as a possible marketing ploy. However, Tartini had apparently actually tried to keep the whole thing a secret for 2 years—especially given the obvious dilemma it would pose for him as being a prominent musician & composer for the Church. Strangely enough though, experts on Tartini’s music also tend to agree that this sonata is stylistically much different from all of his other works, both before it & after it.

 

Either way, this tale of the Devil using a violin to seduce souls over to the ‘other side’, has since been the inspiration for several other works & folklore, including that of Niccolo Paganini, & it was even revisited this past century in the popular Country song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels band.

 

Tartini was also an excellent swordsman in the art of Fencing, & had allegedly even killed a man once in the heat of a duel.  He is also the 1st person known to have owned a Stradivari violin (1715).  He died 1770, the same year that Beethoven was born.

 

 

How I recorded it:

 

This Adagio was a bit more tricky. Because the actual melody line fluctuates between the 1st & 2nd trumpets, I needed to constantly stop at the end of each section & switch parts—in order to keep it separated within their respective parts. I recorded all melody lines first, then all the harmony lines. Thus, I had to use 2 tracks per part (2 for Trpt#1, 2 for Trpt#2, & 2 for Trpt#3)—1 track was used for when it had the melody & 1 for when it had the harmony. I also used a flugelhorn for the Trpt#3 part, to break up the monotony of (& give a subtle variety to) the timbre of the instruments. Trust me, I know that my sound-recording here is far from perfect. My tracks were not necessarily all done on the 1st take, however I did play each section (one right after the other) straight through in 1 take each & without any overdubs or punch in corrections.

 

I again did not use a metronome as I wished to capture a more ‘human feel’—something that I feel is often lacking in much of today’s ‘music’. I also again slightly panned (separated) all the parts—so that the listener will be able to hear each part individually & yet still appreciate their relation as one complete single musical idea.  For best results, try using headphones.

 

The 3rd Trumpet Part (copyrighted, 2012 ©) was written mainly by Jules Sposato, with certain sub-parts being written by Peter J Blume. I then adapted the whole 3rd part to fit better sonically from theory to application, especially since I did not include the piano accompaniment part on this recording; the original music had been scored for violin (transcribed for trumpet) & piano.

 

The AUDIO here is copyrighted by Peter J Blume, 2012 ©

 

“I dedicate my humble audio recording here (of this great Tartini masterpiece) to Mr Jules Sposato, who was my very 1st trumpet teacher; for sparking & cultivating my interest in the Trumpet (ALL Brass, really), & for instilling in me the importance of ‘Practicing’–& the importance of learning to love to practice”–PjB

Thanks for listening & hope you enjoy!—Peter J Blume, trumpeter (2012)

Handel, the Rock Star

Sir Handel & one of his many ‘Power Ballads’

 

By all accounts, Handel was a Rock Star—or whatever the equivalent of that would’ve been during the 18th century. His music was interesting, exciting, catchy (to the extent of being infectious!) & thus popular, sophisticated & yet to-the-point. It was deceptively complex & yet simple enough for other great & notable composers of the day to admirably often ponder “why didn’t I think of that?!”

 

He had “bling” (mostly in the form of an impressive art collection); his skills were in high demand—by the richest of the rich in Europe–& they gladly paid him for it.  Handel was born in Halle, northern Germany, but he eventually came to consider himself more of an Englishman—as England was where his highest paying & most respected gigs were.

 

Like a rock star, he ‘toured’ throughout many parts of Europe—at a time when traveling wasn’t as easy as getting on a plane or a train, or into an automobile. He lived & worked (& studied) in Italy for a time, mainly in the Opera world—which was kind of like what our Hollywood is today. There he was greatly influenced by Arcangelo Corelli (who was about 20 years older than him)—especially with regards to writing music in the form of the ‘Concerto Grosso’ (in which the musical material is passed between a small group of soloists—not just a single soloist–& full orchestra). Handel wrote HIS Concerti Grossi (plural; opus 6)—61 complete pieces of music scored for full string orchestra—in only a little better than a month’s time! As noted earlier, he also then lived extensively in England–& eventually even changed his citizenship, from German to become a naturalized English citizen. It was there that he wrote & performed his infamous ‘Water Music’ & ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’, etc—often to erupting crowds of thousands.

 

But similar to Corelli, Handel considered his music to be more that just mere entertainment; it was high quality craftsmanship to be admired, studied & imitated for the future generations.              Thankfully!

 


Direct link to video on Youtube

 

Handel also had a bit of a Rock Star Ego.  Born in the same year as J.S. Bach (1685) & having grown up within only 50 miles of him, ironically the 2 never met. Bach apparently tried to get an audience with Handel at least once, but to no avail. There is no apparent evidence however to suggest that Handel ever even tried to meet Bach, although it can be safely assumed that Handel was well aware of Bach’s capabilities, work, & respected reputation. Handel was described as being more of an extrovert, while Bach apparently was more of an introvert–& these predominant personal traits also translated into their respective bodies of music; the discerning ear will easily recognize those contrasting characteristics in their compositional styles.

 

How I recorded it:

 

Trust me, I know that my sound-recording here of this Adagio, or ‘Cantilena’ (which basically means ‘a smooth flowing melody’) is far from perfect. My tracks were not necessarily all done on the 1st take, however I did play each section (one right after the other) straight through in 1 take each & without any overdubs or punch in corrections. I did however insert a 2nd final note (on the tonic) as I ran out of breath on the original note! Forgive me.

 

There is only 1 major seam—it is obviously at the return to the main melody out of the bridge. I added that 1 measure ‘seam’ back to the melody; it not in the original Handel score & is more likely in the style of say Leopold Mozart (W.A.’s father). I also made an artistic decision (on purpose) to elongate my trills at the end of most of the phrase-sections. Thus, I also did not use a metronome as I wished to capture a more ‘human feel’—something that I feel is often lacking in much of today’s ‘music’. I again slightly panned (separated) the parts—so that the listener will be able to hear each part individually & yet still appreciate their relation as one complete single musical idea.  For best results, try using headphones.

 

The 2nd Trumpet Part (copyrighted, 2012 ©) was written mainly by Jules Sposato (my very 1st trumpet teacher!), with certain sub-parts being written by Peter J Blume. I then adapted the whole 2nd part to fit better sonically from theory to application, especially since I did not include the piano accompaniment part on this recording; the original music had been scored for 1 violin (transcribed for trumpet) & piano.

 

I dedicate my humble audio recording here (of this great Handel masterpiece) in memory of Master-Classical Trumpeter Maurice André, in appreciation for his life’s work & inspiration. Coincidentally, I had recorded the modest AUDIO portion of this video here on 2/24/12—the very day just before he died. For decades, he had been a huge influence to me, & to many other trumpet players & students around the globe.

 

(Please see my blog for more info on Mr. André at my website: peterjblume.com)

 

The AUDIO here is copyrighted by Peter J Blume, 2012 ©

 

Thanks for listening & hope you enjoy!—Peter J Blume, trumpeter (2012)

 

A Great Loss to the Trumpet World: Maurice André dies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great loss was suffered to the Trumpet World on February 25th of this year (2012); Maurice André, possibly the greatest Classical Trumpeter/Soloist ever, died at age 78.  In the wake of a frenzy over the unexpected death of pop singer-sensation Whitney Houston (only 2 weeks prior), Mr. André’s passing received very little press attention; during his lifetime he had been featured on over 300+ recordings.

However, there was still apparently ample room in the press a few days later to cover the death of Davey Jones, the singer of the Monkees, a mock spin-off pop group of the Beetles that had actually begun as a spoof TV show.

 

Recently I read an interesting comparison–stating that Maurice André was to the Classical Trumpet what Louis Armstrong was to the Jazz Trumpet. For sure he was an incredible virtuoso (who also pushed the boundaries of the Classical Trumpet repertoire) who was a great inspiration to me, & to many other trumpet players & students around the globe, including the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Phil Smith, Allison Balsom, etc–& he was a friend to many of the Jazz greats as well. There are some nice YouTube videos of him playing duets with Dizzy Gillespie; you can just see the mutual respect & admiration they had for each others’ artistic abilities.

 

I was fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to meet Mr. André in 1988– after a concert that he gave at the Gasteig in Munich. During the concert, he performed 3 concertos (Handel, Bellini & Hertel), & then for encores, he performed 3 MORE concertos–IN ENTIRETY!! (I don’t recall which ones they were though). The only possible ‘mistake’ I remember hearing during that entire concert was MAYBE 1 missed note–& the note that he played instead, still fit the chord of where he was in that particular piece!

 

And as brilliant as he performed, he was just as humble & gracious when I met him in person. He spoke only in French (so he spoke to me through an interpreter) but gave willingly of his undivided attention & time, & was very supportive & encouraging with regards to my own playing.

 

I have a picture with him posted on my website & his concert program from that night (autographed &) framed on my practice room wall. It was an experience of a lifetime for me that I will never forget–& that I will surely pass on to my own children someday; they are still young yet, but are already listening to & enjoying many of his beautiful recordings that we own.

 

My personal favorite of his is the Leopold Mozart Concerto–not the one with the Berlin Phil Orch/Karajan (although that was very good as well)–but on a now out-of-print LP (Turnabout Vox TV-S 34529) entitled ‘Baroque Trumpet Concerti’ with the Chamber Orchestra of the North German Radio/Gabor Otvös. After not having listened to it for some 20+ years, I had it transferred to CD about a year ago; such a warm & sensitive reading of this masterpiece…& I have heard no other recording of it come even close, before or since.

 

 

Maurice André (5/21/1933 – 2/25/2012)

He is survived by his wife, Liliane; a son, Nicolas, a trumpeter; and a daughter Béatrice, an oboist.

 

He will be missed, but never forgotten.

 

*Please note, that on the day before he died, I had made a modest recording of a Handel Adagio for 2 trumpets; I will now dedicate my audio recording of that piece to Mr. André in great thanks for his life’s work & inspiration. It will appear in a YouTube slide-video regarding G.F. Handel, that I plan on posting later this year (after the necessary copyrights have been obtained). If interested, please keep a look out for it coming soon.

 

**Please be advised that the aforementioned slide-video is now posted in my BLOGs section; it is my July 2012 entry. Thank you.

 

 

My Horns Added To:

I’m very excited to announce a new personal project that I have begun to undertake, which I am entitling “My Horns Added To:” If you look in my ‘Sound Clips’ under my ‘Music’ header of this website, you will now find 8 new tracks that I have recently uploaded there—which all begin with that same title.

 

One of the dilemmas I’ve noticed that I often face now when performing, is that my audiences are increasingly just ‘regular people’ whose musical tastes are pretty much in line with whatever mainstream ‘music’ of the day has been determined to be ‘in’; fewer & fewer of them tend to be deeply musically educated—most are not musically inclined themselves, & rarely do I find any that are true music aficionados. But don’t get me wrong; I mean no disrespect here & they are always very polite when listening to me.  But from the expressions on their faces & from their reactions afterwards, I can tell that they often don’t always understand what all I’m doing or what I’m trying to show them…and it seems the more sophisticated or complex that I play—trying to impress them—the less they actually understand or ‘get it’.

 

So in an effort to try & better reach my audience (& especially that segment of it), I came up with an idea: to play over music that is already familiar to them; tunes that they would have heard at least on the radio—some even thousands of times—played exactly the same way, but now with something new added to them–ME!

 

But please don’t think that I am trying to pull some sort of advertising gimmick here; my added horn lines are how I’ve heard these tunes anyway in my inner ears for years already…& I have plenty more in mind from where those came from! Technology, for me, is often a double-edged sword; & while I tend to mostly curse at it, it really is because of the incredible advancements in digital technology that I am now quite affordably able to turn my inner ear parts into a reality & then get them to you—right from my own home!

 

My real goal with my horns is to make it sound like they belonged there—right from the beginning; that the original recordings of these tunes coulda & maybe even shoulda been recorded with them that way.  The songs that I used & will use are all great tunes already to begin with. My intent here is to only enhance them even further—to add value; another layer of musical sophistication to them.

 

And I just knew that I was on to a really good idea here, as I’ve even noticed my own very young children often singing along to MY HORN LINES when we’re riding in the car together & listening to these tunes (!!)–& they also tend to speak up whenever we hear the original (hornless) versions of them on the radio, as they apparently miss & prefer MY horn parts!

 

Here’s hoping that you might also give ‘My Added Horns’ a chance listen to…

Telemann, the Artisan

Have you ever looked at a beautiful piece of furniture, let’s say an armoire, from the late 1800’s or early 1900’s & admired all the craftsmanship that went into making it? They didn’t have Ikea’s or Home Depots or Bob’s Discount Furniture Stores back then, so chances are that it had been laboriously hand made by a highly skilled artisan who was also obviously meticulous in paying attention to all the fine detail—that’s why it’s still around, so beautiful, & even still useable, almost 150 years later.


This piece of music is similar in theory to that idea—it’s a sort of ‘musical armoire’ if you will, in that it was also meticulously constructed by a master craftsman (& artist)—only over a 100 years even before that! Its quality is plain but superb (saying a lot within only 2 parts—unaccompanied, & without the assistance of any computerized loops, backing tracks, or electronic enhancements, etc) & it is musically ‘in square’ (well balanced interestingly between the parts); it has also withstood the test of time. And perhaps the most amazing part of all—it is only one mere example of the almost endless number of high quality works that were created at an unrelenting pace by Georg Philipp Telemann throughout his entire 87 year lifetime.



Direct link to video on Youtube

 

Telemann (1681 – 1767) is one of the most prolific composers in music history; he left more works than those of Bach & Handel combined. In fact, many of the major composers (including Bach & Handel—whom Telemann knew personally) even bought & studied Telemann’s published works. His music is also an important link between the late Baroque and early Classical styles—during which Telemann’s own compositional style remained contrapuntally & harmonically complex (& thus interesting—as evidenced in this piece as well).

 

While presently Bach is generally considered the greater composer, Telemann was more widely renowned for his musical abilities during his lifetime, & very highly regarded by his colleagues & critics alike.


But today in modern times, he is often overlooked & underappreciated in both popularity & significance. For that reason, I have chosen to perform & record this beautiful piece of his music: the Vivace (4th movement) taken from Telemann’s Sonata #4 in E minor for 2 flutes, violins or other like instruments (transcribed for trumpet). There are actually 6 full Sonatas in this suite of music, which were first published in 1727. Written in the form of the sonata da chiesa (or church sonata), the pieces feature the dialogue of 2 players who imitate each other, exchange musical ideas, & take turns in taking the lead.


There is also much room for ad lib—which I readily took advantage of, & the tempo in which I chose to perform it is more of a fast ‘Allegro’ rather than a full blown ‘Vivace’; I did this (intentionally played it slightly slower) for several reasons: it allowed time to add the ornamentations, & it also gives time for the listener to be able to better appreciate what is all going on—polyphony! Trust me, I know that my recording here is far from perfect; but I did play each part (one right after the other) straight through in 1 take each & without any overdubs or punch in corrections. I also did not use a metronome as I wished to capture a more ‘human feel’—something that is often lacking in much of today’s ‘music’. I also slightly panned (separated) the parts—so that the listener will be able to hear each part individually & yet still appreciate their interplay as one complete single musical idea. For best results, try using headphones.


For another reference of this piece, see Angele Dubeau’s Analekta recording (FL 2 3085) of the “Telemann Sonatas for two violins”. It is currently one of only the few still published recordings that I am aware of regarding this work. Also, much of the above information that I provided here was taken from its liner notes, which were written by Francois Filiatrault (translation: Patricia Abbott), as well as from Wikipedia facts on Telemann. Another quote was taken from an article about Telemann’s Canonic Duets posted on allthingstrumpet.com written by David Cooper.


Thanks for listening & hope you enjoy!—Peter J Blume, trumpeter (2011)

Radio Cloning–Smooth Jazz CD101.9 FM changing formats

This was the letter that I sent on 2/8/08 to WQCD–the local Smooth Jazz radio station in the NYC area (101.9 on the FM dial), regarding their decision to switch formats. It was entitled:

 

‘Big Surprise…switching to Classic Rock’

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Dear friends at CD101.9 or if they’re already gone too, to the new management at 101.9 FM,

 

I would just like to express my sincere disappointment in yet another disappearance of NY CULTURE that I had enjoyed about living in the NY area.

 

Being a semi-professional trumpet player for over 30 years, I was sad to see the long time ‘Classical’ music station WNCN (104.3 FM) change its format over to ‘Classic Rock’ a few years back. Not that I don’t like Classic Rock—I do, & a lot of great horn sections in much of that stuff too, but didn’t we ALREADY HAVE enough classic rock stations in the area??? WNCN was only 1 of 2 dedicated Classical music stations remaining in the area when it left…

 

I had also enjoyed THE OPTION of checking out the long time ‘New Country’ music station WYNY (107.1 FM) before it too changed its format–ultimately to THE PEAK; an eclectic mix of ‘classic rock’ & ‘new rock’…also a VERY good station (Independent Rock), but really not THAT much different than Q104.3 (or the other already established ‘classic rock’ stations).

 

…& now CD101.9 going ‘classic rock’ too–as if NY needs yet ANOTHER?!?! Isn’t New York famous & desirable for its DIVERSITY?!?–Our DIFFERENT OPTIONS & VARIETY are disappearing in NY!!!! It’s like you’re opening yet ANOTHER Chinese or Italian restaurant–the food is good, but there are already like SOOO many of the SAME in the area.

 

I will miss your Smooth Jazz on the radio. Granted, I enjoyed it more in the early days–before ‘Chill’ was added & when the music was made by actual REAL BANDS as opposed to just a soloist with backing tracks (often like karaoke for one instrument), but unfortunately that is just a sign of the times: the over-relying-on & over-use-of technology, & economics–its just cheaper to make recordings that way (& please don’t think that ‘new rock’ is any different). But I was still an avid listener to your station…It was a great way to help ’slow the world down’–with great ‘feel good’ music, the recording artists were (ARE) very talented, the DJ’s were friendly, professionally personable & adult (civilized!), etc………& most importantly, it was DIFFERENT than ANY OTHER STATION!

 

And that’s really the most important point; it’s actually irrelevant whether or not you personally even like Smooth Jazz, or Classical music or Country music, etc, or that maybe you even prefer something else, like Classic Rock anyway–those other OPTIONS are either disappearing or are no longer even available on FM radio in the NYC area!

 

I understand that you have to make money, & that Classic Rock is probably a ‘sure thing’ as far as investing in FM Radio goes, so I guess you gotta do what you gotta do from that standpoint. But in my opinion, there might have been an alternative solution: Dave Grusin & Larry Rosen could have been consulted regarding their incredible success with GRP Records back in the 80’s & 90’s–not only in changing & revitalizing the Jazz/Smooth Jazz industry, but in how incredibly profitable it was in the process! But instead you chose a ‘quick fix’.

 

Respectfully yours…& am actually hoping that you might change your minds (& maybe even the Smooth Jazz industry AGAIN!)–eventually,

 

-Peter J Blume & family

 

P.S. My child who is 2 years old (at the time) already knows & enjoys much of the music of Dave Grusin, David Benoit, The Rippingtons, Acoustic Alchemy, Bob James, Dan Siegel, Lee Ritenour, Flim & the BB’s, Spyro Gyra, etc etc! Thankfully I have the recordings…

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**Be advised that no response to my e-mail was ever received. And shortly after this time, WQXR (the only other area ‘Classical’ radio station) was dropped by The NY Times, & 96.3FM was then transformed into a ‘Latino’ music station. Like the ‘Classic Rock’ format, there are also MANY ‘Latino’ music stations on FM radio in the NY area—all playing very similar music.

 

WQXR still exists (for the time-being) on FM radio as a ‘Classical’ music station, but is being broadcasted via a much less powerful repeater (105.9FM) & is now a NPR (National Public Radio) station that relies heavily on radio-a-thon style fundraising to (barely) keep monetarily afloat.

Peter J Blume

1st time at the steering wheel

Ready, Set, Start your (search) engines…here I go…wish me luck!!

2012 IndyCar Long Beach

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