A great loss was suffered to the Trumpet World on February 25th of this year (2012); Maurice André, possibly the greatest Classical Trumpeter/Sol
oist 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.