should we be playing the rotary trumpet?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by youngblood, Apr 9, 2007.

  1. youngblood

    youngblood Member

    Brass in Orchestras are often instructed to play rotary trumpets! This makes me wonder if any of our UK brass bands have a rotary trumpet player hidden amongst their ranks.

    If the argument in another thread about soloists not being true to classical composers is to be followed through then we should be aware that much of the classical music we play was composed for rotary trumpet players (rotary trumpets that is, not the players).

    I have been looking at and listening to Boban Markovic and his Orkestra who are going to be at BRASS in Durham this year they all play rotary trumpets and they sound darn good to me.

    So trying not to bring back memories of Saturday Night at the London Paladium and its revolving stage I wonder if we have a rotary band anywhere if so I have not met them but it would be interesting.

    Have you played on and should those that want us to be true to clasical composers have to play rotary trumpets?

    Over to you

  2. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Active Member

    Having played orchestral trumpet for many years, I have to disagree with your opening statement.

    The use of piston or rotary valves is not a decision of the composer (which I infer you mean) but much more a tradition of a particular orchestra or country (usually Central Europe).

    So I don't think music is actually 'composed' for rotary trumpet, although composers such as Bruckner or Mahler may have expected some orchestras to use them. (The Vienna Philharmonic uses them by tradition, but not because they are specifically written for)
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2007
  3. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    If it's Classical Period you are talking about, it's not rotary valves, or any valves at all, but KEYS, (eg. the Haydn Concerto was written for the then NEW keyed trumpet!) or if earlier still, it was played on a flared length of gas-pipe with a hole! ;-)
  4. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    By extension, this means that brass band pieces such as "Life Divine", "Epic Symphony", "Kennilworth" etc should be played on small bore instruments in high pitch, plus a bass trombone pitched in G.

    I suppose it would be interesting to hear a modern brass band play such pieces on "authentic" instruments, but just as a one-off, rather than the norm.
  5. youngblood

    youngblood Member

    That's all interesting stuff and I have to say it is what I like about Mouthpiece: you can always learn from others thanks!

    Just for info:
    Murray Greig states that:

    For a number of years now the question of “should we be playing the rotary trumpet for this piece?” has been a frequent talking point in many British orchestras. It has not always been instigated by the trumpet players admittedly, but often requested, and in some cases dictated, by conductors or managements.

    Rotary valve trumpets are typically used in German and Austrian orchestras rather than the piston valve instruments that are more commonly used for example in the UK, France and the USA. Although rotary valve trumpets have no more historical authenticity than the piston trumpet for ‘classical’ and ‘early romantic’ music, many orchestral trumpet players have in recent years been using these instruments more and more for repertoire ranging from Mozart and Haydn through to Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. The softer attack and warmer tone quality of the rotary instrument is often better suited to the modern performance of ‘natural trumpet’ repertoire than the more brilliant and incisive piston valve instrument. There is no question, however, that the rotary valve trumpet is the stylistically appropriate and historically authentic instrument for the late 19th and early 20th century Austro-Germanic repertoire of Wagner, Buckner, Mahler and Strauss. One need only take for example performances by leading European orchestras such as the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras to demonstrate the superiority of these instruments for such literature.

    I am still interested however in knowing if anybody in a UK brass band plays a rotory trumpet.

  6. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    Are they? I don't ever recall such an instruction in any of the works I've played over the years. I'd be interested in some examples with a note of which publisher of works where this happens.
    They do sound different - but is that more to do with the bore and shape of the bell than the fact that they have rotary valves?
    I have worked with just one player who uses/owns one - Geoff Broom (ex Irish Guards, current MD Eastbourne Silver)
  7. Glehany

    Glehany Member

    Murray Greig is entitled to his opinion, but I'd be more inclined to agree with Mr Anglo Music press. The issue of authenticity is far broader than use of rotary valves. Mahler would also have expected low F trumpets to be used - a very different sound to the modern Bb trumpet, rotary or piston valved. The 4 valve Eb trumpet is often used by orchestral players these days and the piccolo trumpet is a very modern invention - rotary or piston valve. The rest of the orchestra is also very different so just using a rotary valve trumpet not in any way authentic. You either use genuinely authentic instruments throughout or you use what you want (or what the conductor wants) and make no pretence at authenticity - IMHO. Rotary valves are more authentic for nat literature than pistons???? no chance!

    I played a rotary valve trumpet once with Kirkintilloch. An instrument importer brought a whole set of rotary instruments and we spent the day playing on these things. They were quite good to play, but the tone of the trumpets was still bright compared to a modern cornet. Now rotary valve cornets - there's an idea. Not authentic to anything, but I'd bet they'd sound pretty great.

    Anyway, you wouldn't be allowed to compete playing on a rotary trumpet, as it's not a cornet!

  8. youngblood

    youngblood Member

  9. Jan H

    Jan H Moderator Staff Member

    I'm pretty sure I've seen pictures of this somewhere on the net, possibly in this website: (but I don't have time right now to check it out)
  10. JDH

    JDH Member

    Now I would have thought rotary valve Flugel Horns were more the thing. Does anyone play one in a brass band?
  11. youngblood

    youngblood Member

  12. Glehany

    Glehany Member

  13. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    I love that story! As I heard it, the conductor in question was the Italian Claudio Abbado, hence the quip about replacing him with a German.

    When I was at college the colloquial term for a rotary-valved trumpet was a "Hitlerphone" ...

    Actually, I have to confess to owning one - a Czech-made "Cverny" student model in Bb. I've had it around 6 years now, and I believe during that time I've played it "in anger" about ... twice ...

    I always found the valves very heavy and sluggish, despite repeated attempts at cleaning and oiling them. Once, on a gig, I showed it to a pro french-horn-player colleague, and asked him if he could recommend any tips-n-tricks for improving the valves. After picking it up and wiggling the valves he handed it back, shaking his head, saying, "Nope; that's about as good as they get." On that basis I can't see much future for a rotary-valved cornet in the modern brass band!
  14. youngblood

    youngblood Member

    I am impressed that you boke with tradition to try something different even if it did not work out! Shame about that but I wonder if others have found the same?

    May I suggest that you have a peek at the Mnozil video clip on


    If you get the chance see the film Guca featuring Boban Markovic:

    Or of course:

    Come and see them both at the BRASS Festival in Durham and see what you think of how they play them. Boban and his son Marko are to be honest blooming amazing and Mnozil are well....Mnozil!

  15. youngblood

    youngblood Member

  16. Kerwintootle

    Kerwintootle Member

    There was a guy in Edinburgh, Bill Philips and he was very keen on experimenting by assembling a full band of rotary instruments (plus normal trombones and percussion and conductors baton:) ). He took the idea around several bands but in the end one of the army bands took it on. Myself and Simon were involved as were a few other people from Newtongrange, Kirkintilloch and Whitburn.

    We spent a weekend recording a CD of music, some German, some Victorian and some Scottish folktunes.

    There were quite a number of intonation issues with the instruments and holding the instruments was a bit of a challenge. But, I loved the Eb rotary trumpet and would have loved to have played it full time but the price tag put me off. It was a great instrument and I did borrow it for a few concerts after that. I played Queen of the Nights Aria on it with the co.

    I have the CD, well actually I don't, it's on it's way on a ship over here in one of the many boxes, but I'm sure Bill has many of CD's left (!:oops: ). Some of the Scottish guys on here might know how to get hold of him to hear the evidence of the rotary band.

  17. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    I have that problem with mine as well. Basically can't keep the same grip for more than about 5 mins without your hand seizing up so you end up keep changing the grip. If I were likely to do more playing on it I think I would have to take it to a pro instrument repairer and have some extra rings/hooks put on.
  18. bennem

    bennem Member

    I have a rotary cornet in Bb. Disappointingly it doesn't use normal cornet mouthpieces as it is designed to use trumpet shanks. But it makes a passable cornet sound with a deep trumpet mouthpiece. I have used a cornet to trumpet mouthpiece adapter but it messes up the intonation on the instrument. One day I will ask someone to make me a new leadpipe or adapt the current one to fit a cornet mouthpiece shank.

    Take a look at one here

    Interestingly I bought it direct from the makers Josef Lidl and paid about half the amount they are advertising it on the website above.

    The rotary valves on this instrument are pretty slick and with the short "stroke" you can rattle through semiquavers as well as with a piston valve instrument.

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