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Orchestral Tales: the trumpet

Paolo Pietropaolo

If you take the most famous solos for a given instrument of the orchestra, you’ll find a vivid character emerges — a character with a magical story to tell. That’s the idea behind Orchestral Tales, Season 3 of the award-winning Signature Series.

To hear the trumpet’s tale, click on the Soundcloud play button below. Follow along with the pop-up comments to find out what composition is playing, or scroll down for a complete list.

Read more about the trumpet’s characteristics below.


Orchestral section:


Patron instrument of:

Soldiers, spies, quarterbacks.

Trumpet-like fictional characters:

- Bond. James Bond.
- Captain James T. Kirk.

1 trumpet clip to watch before you die:

Two of the greatest trumpeters of all time, Maurice André (classical) and Dizzy Gillespie (jazz), joke together and then play impossibly beautifully together:

3 immortal trumpet moments in pop culture:

1. The piccolo trumpet takes the Beatles’ “Penny Lane” from simply amazing to outright spectacular (piccolo trumpet solo by David Mason at 1:12):

2. Elvis Costello, “Shipbuilding” (trumpet solo by jazz legend Chet Baker).

3. A hilarious compilation of all of the Muppet Gonzo’s attempts to play the trumpet.

1 reason to play the trumpet:

You will never not be noticed again.

Famous trumpeters you should know about:

- Louis Armstrong.
- Miles Davis.
- Dizzy Gillespie.
- Maurice André.
- Chet Baker.
- Wynton Marsalis.
- Lew Soloff, longtime session player (Blood, Sweat & Tears and Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al.”)

Pieces heard in The Trumpet’s Tale (in order of appearance):

- Mahler: Symphony No. 5, first movement
- Jeremiah Clarke: Prince of Denmark’s March (also known as Trumpet Voluntary)
- Brig.-Gen. Daniel Butterfield: "Taps"
- Copland: Quiet City
- Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F, second movement
- Mussorgsky: “Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle” from Pictures at an Exhibition (orch. Ravel)
- Stravinsky: “Danse infernale” from The Firebird
- Holst: “Mars” from The Planets
- Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man
- Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
- Britten: “Sunday Morning” from Four Sea Interludes
- John Williams: Main theme from Star Wars
- Williams: “The Raiders March/Indiana Jones Theme” from Raiders of the Lost Ark

Meet all of the instruments.