I have based my approach to the bass trumpet on the writings of Herman Pietzsch in his book ‘Die Trompete’, first published in 1900. The book is a both a comprehensive history of the trumpet and an orchestral excerpt book covering the complete trumpet repertoire, the section on Wagner containing all the bass trumpet parts.
Pietzsch writes; “The bass trumpet in ‘Nibelungenring’ is a chromatic trumpet in Eb , D and C and stands an octave lower than the ordinary trumpet, so that it is in unison with the horns. Owing to the large range which Wagner demands, the bass trumpet, however, requires to be of unusual size; nevertheless , a good ‘blower’, and a fourth valve can bring out all the motives with good effect, by using a mouth-piece specially made with a deep and broad cup’’.
Gordon’s piece was written to add repertoire and foster interest in this instrument for trumpeters wanting to add bass trumpet to their doublings. I hope I have created a historically accurate reproduction of the sound Wagner would have heard in performances of his music.
Sub-Principal Trumpet, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, London.
- Bass Trumpet in E-flat