Twentieth-Century Brass Soloists

Twentieth-Century Brass Soloists

Twentieth-Century Brass Soloists

Twentieth-Century Brass Soloists


Musical performance on brass instruments has blossomed in the 20th century because of technical improvements in horn making, a vastly increased literature, and an astonishing number of outstanding players. Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, and Doc Severinsen have become household names, and classical musicians such as Maurice Andre, Christian Lindberg, and Barry Tuckwell have pursued distinguished careers as soloists. Twentieth-Century Brass Soloists analyzes and celebrates nearly one hundred brass soloists who have performed and been recorded widely, and whose genius, technique, and style have combined to produce unforgettable moments in music.


This is a delightful book about the finest brass soloists in the Western world, selected on the basis of the distinction of their solo careers, the number and quality of their recordings, and their influence on colleagues and laymen. A majority of them are Americans or followed important American careers, a circumstance that relates to special developments in the history of American music. Americans have for long been more interested in brass music than is the case in most other countries, and I think it well that we look into the special historical conditions that account for that circumstance.

The time is before dawn on January 11, 1863. The place is Arkansas Post, on the Arkansas River, in Arkansas, on a battlefield of the Civil War. The Union general William Tecumseh Sherman is scouting a Confederate outpost of Fort Hindman. "I crept up . . . so close," he recalled, "that I could hear the enemy hard at work. . . . I could almost hear their words, and I was thus listening when, about 4 a.m. the bugler in the rebel camp sounded as pretty a reveille as I ever listened to" (Memoirs, Library of America edition, pp. 320-21).

About a year later, after Sherman had set up his headquarters in Savannah, Georgia, he recalled that "the guard-mountings and parades, as well as the greater reviews, became the daily resorts of the ladies, to hear the music of our excellent bands" (Memoirs, p. 716).

Do not be surprised that this particular general, implacable though he may have been in warfare, was a constant patron throughout his life of musical and other artistic events, nor that he was entranced enough on several occasions to mention the brass music that permeated army life both in camp and on the field. The sweet sound of brass instruments, well played, first became the special delight of Americans in the years just before the Civil War, when the invention of piston valves made bugles capable of chromatic passages and thus the vehicles of popular music.

The armies of the North and South maintained hundreds of the then entirely . . .

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