Grand Russian Fantasia

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Ginge, Mar 23, 2006.

  1. Ginge

    Ginge Member

    Does anyone know any information on the cornet solo 'Grand Russian Fantasia - Jules Levy'?
    I need to do a short write up on the piece and all i can find out about it is that it's been recorded by Wynton Marsalis as part of the Carnival CD.
    Any information would be great. Thanks.
  2. rutty

    rutty Active Member

    I have that in my case. Our flugal player gave me it in an apprarent lapse of complete optimism.

    Other than that, I have no further details I'm afraid, other than the fact that my eyes almost pop out of my head when I try and play the final note
  3. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Nothing specifically about the piece in question, but a bit of background on Jules Levy (1838-1903) if that's helpful:

    Levy was regarded as the most celebrated cornetist of the 19th centurt and a pioneer in promoting the cornet as a solo instrument from 1870 onwards. Herbert Clarke described his power, technique and endurance as a marvel. He was particularly noted for his ability to cope with wide intervals without changing his tone.

    He played in the Patrick Gilmore band, where he was set on the opposite side of the band to Matthew Arbuckle, and they would improvise variations in a form of duel.

    Born in England, at the age of 18 he was invited by Dan Godfrey, leader of the Grenadier Guards, to play in one of his bands. He also played at the Royal Opera House and in the theatre. He made 32 solo records for the Victor Company and was constantly travelling the USA & Canada in the 1880's and 1890's.

    Other compositions by him include the "Whirlwind polka" and "Leviathon Polka".

    (largely taken from sleeve notes compiled by Frederick P. Williams for the International Trumpet Guild)
  4. Ginge

    Ginge Member

    It's not the last note that's the problem, that comes out the majority of the time. The triple tonguing section near the end is the bit that destroys me. Don't think i've played that section right yet, without messing most of it up! :rolleyes:

    Thanks for the info Peter. I was finding information on a Bulgarian Composer/Conductor?! I take it this is not the right man?
  5. satchmo

    satchmo New Member

    Biog of Jules Levy

    Found it !. the biog included in this post and can be found (together with Herbert Clarke etc.) at

    Jules Levy
    b London, England 24 Apr 1838; d Chicago 28 Nov 1903

    Here is another personality about whom could be written an entire book. Levy wished to play the cornet as young as five years old, but his father could not afford an instrument. At the age of twelve, Jules began practicing on a mouthpiece and finally purchased a cornet for fifteen shillings from a pawnshop at the age of seventeen. In 1856, he was performing with the Grenadier Guard Band, and in 1860, he was performing solos, for thirty shillings a week, between acts at the Princess Theatre in London. His favorite piece was the Whirlwind Polka, a piece written and performed by Levy specifically for the occasion. In 1861, Levy was performing with the Royal Opera House Orchestra for £5 per week. He was performing at the Crystal Palace and Floral Hall, as well. Between 1864 and 1876,
    Hartmann, the Levyathon Polka (also known as Levy Athens Polka), and his favorite Whirlwind Polka. In 1871, he joined Fiske’s Cornet Band. During his tenure with Fiske, he was earning the incredible sum of $10,000 a year. After hearing a performance of Levy with Fiske’s Cornet Band , the Grand Duke Alexis invited Levy to spend some time in Russia at his court. He took up the offer and stayed in Russia for twenty months. He was asked by the Czarevich to be the Chief Bandmaster of the Czar’s Russian Army and Imperial Cornetist (Bridges [1972], 58-59). He turned the offer down to return first to England to play at the London Promenade Concerts, and later to play at the Hippodrome in New York. The large salary offered at both venues was apparently a great incentive for Levy.

    Levy was probably the first cornetist to work for Edison making test recordings as early as 1878, briefly leaving the Gilmore Band to do so. He also made at least fifteen recordings for Columbia , and twenty-three for Victor. Unfortunately, they were made in the 1890’s and did not truly reflect his virtuosic playing that was in his prime. Levy was such an incredible cornetist in his prime that he was given a diamond studded cornet built by the C. G. CONN company in 1883, the same year he began to endorse their instruments .

    Testimonials of some of his many students attest to his great abilities not only as a cornetist, but also as a teacher. Two such testimonials stand out in the Supplement to C. G. Conn’s Truth (C. G. Conn n.d., 14). In one such testimonial, J. D. Rose says, "I wish to thank you for the interest you have taken in me and the advancement I have made under your instruction. I do not hesitate in pronouncing you [are] not only the finest cornet player in the world ,but also the finest instructor." In another testimonial, Mabel Keith conveys her respect for Levy by saying, "His aim is for the advancement of his pupils and he spares no pains to accomplish this end."

    Levy’s favorite programmed solos were of the Theme and Variation genre. Frequently performed solos were Carnival of Venice, Grand Russian Fantasia, Levyathon Polka, and his own Whirlwind Polka, made famous years earlier in his youth. This piece became what is known as a signature piece for Jules Levy. One of his most famous students became a famous bandleader and composer, Edwin Franko Goldman. His son, Jules Levy, Jr., was a fine cornetist, as well. He was a director in Hollywood, led his own brass quartet, and made records for Edison, Emerson, and Pathé. Apparently, his recordings were far more accurate than his father’s recordings, and demonstrated great tonguing technique, once a trademark of his own father in his prime. Sources of information appear throughout this entry.

    Good Luck with the Grand Russian Fantasia :)
  6. JCY

    JCY Member

    Brass band arrangement?

    Does anyone know if there's a brass band arrangement of Grand Russian Fantasia? So far I've only found orchestral and wind band arrangements. Surely there must be one!!
  7. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Tom Wyss arranged it with a brass band accompaniment for his pal Russell Gray, but I couldn't tell you if he got it published.
  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

  9. JCY

    JCY Member

    Thanks, I'll look into it. Just got to practice it a bit too!!

Share This Page