Trumpet in Transition: A History of the Trumpet and its Players in the United Kingdom through the Music and Relationships of Sir Edward Elgar

Nevins, Paul Leonard (2018) Trumpet in Transition: A History of the Trumpet and its Players in the United Kingdom through the Music and Relationships of Sir Edward Elgar. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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The life and career of Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) coincided with a period of significant change in the development of the trumpet and the music scored for it. A professional musician from the provinces, mostly self-taught, Elgar slowly gained recognition and ultimately international fame. In the United Kingdom for most of the nineteenth century the pre-eminence of the slide trumpet, which was not a fully chromatic instrument, made for a unique situation, leaving the ubiquitous cornet to fill the gap when a fully chromatic instrument was required. The valved trumpet, at first in the form of the large F trumpet, only gained a foothold in the last decades of the nineteenth century.
This thesis examines the development in the trumpet and cornet scoring of Elgar throughout his career and correlates this with the trumpeters he worked with both in the provinces and in London. This is set in the context of the instruments that were available to, and promoted by, these trumpeters. The analysis leads to an original theory of Elgar being both a reflector and a driver of change in the turbulent world of the trumpet. A review of the trumpet writing of composers contemporary with Elgar from the United Kingdom corroborates this theory.
The playing styles of Elgar’s trumpeters are investigated, and the sonic and playing qualities of the instruments explored. These qualities are related to the advocacies of the leading trumpeters and commentators of the time, and are illustrated on the accompanying CD which contains contemporary exercises and excerpts performed by the author on historic instruments with original, or copies of, contemporary mouthpieces. This study, relating the music, circumstances of composition, performers involved and the instruments available presents significant new knowledge of the trumpet world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The conclusions challenge certain anecdotes that have been passed from generation to generation concerning trumpeters of Elgar’s generation. I draw attention to evidence suggesting a hitherto little-researched continental influence.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: I owe thanks to many people in the preparation of this thesis. Firstly, my supervisors Professor Peter Johnson and Professor Ronald Woodley for their patience, understanding and faith that this work would be completed. I have visited many libraries in the process of my research and particular thanks are due to the staff of: Birmingham Conservatoire Library; the library of Keele University; the library of the Royal Academy of Music; the Hive, Worcester; the Library of Birmingham; the British Library and the Music Library of the Barber Institute, University of Birmingham. I have greatly enjoyed visiting various archives and museums. I must thank in particular: Sue Fairchilds of the Elgar Birthplace Museum, Eleanor Roberts of the Hallé Orchestra, Dr. Bradley Strauchan-Scherer formerly of the Horniman Museum, Andy Lamb of the Bate Collection and Professor Arnold Myers, of the University of Edinburgh who also shared his research into the Boosey & Co. workshop records with me. Professor Myers afforded me the opportunity to present at the joint HBS and Galpin Society conference, and promptly answered any questions I asked, via e mail. I gratefully acknowledge the permission given by the Elgar Birthplace Museum to reproduce correspondence and concert programmes. I would like to thank Matthew O’Malley and his team for their expertise in the recording of the CD that accompanies this thesis, and Joanne Sealey for accompanying me so sympathetically. Luke Priest provided extremely useful help with typesetting and other ICT issues. !XIII The acquisition of historic instruments and mouthpieces was problematic and thanks must be offered to Jeremy Montague, the late John Webb and Crispian Steele-Perkins for their help in pointing me in the right direction to purchase these essential items. In addition to Crispian, a number of other trumpeters have taken an interest in this project: John Dickinson, my teacher whilst at school, Michael Laird and Paul Benistone. The late Arthur Butterworth generously let me interview him and his memories of the trumpet world of the 1930s and 1940s were clear and vivid. However, my greatest thanks must go to my wife, Jill, whose assistance with the final proofreading was invaluable. The period of this research coincided with many of life’s ups and downs and Jill’s insistence that this must be finished was the encouragement I needed to keep going.
17 May 2018Completed
Uncontrolled Keywords: Trumpet, Elgar
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-02 - music
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Kip Darling
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2019 16:21
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:54

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