- Trumpets and other High Brass, Volume 1: A History Inspired by the Joe R. and Joella F. Utley Collection: Instruments of the Single Harmonic Series by Sabine Katharina Klaus
Physician Joe Utley was an accomplished trumpeter during his high school days in Oklahoma. Throughout his medical career he maintained his interest in music both as a performer and, most notably, as a collector of all manner of trumpets and cornets, historic and modern. He eventually amassed a collection of over 600 instruments. Although still housed in the Utley home in South Carolina, the collection has been donated to the National Music Museum (NMM) at the University of South Dakota, and will eventually be moved there. In the meantime, the collection has been completely cataloged by the museum, and is accessible to performers, researchers, and brass enthusiasts.
One of the stipulations of the donation was for the publication of “a book based on the Utley Collection describing in detail the history of the family of high brass instruments” (p. xix). “A book” has grown into a projected five-volume series, beginning with the current volume, covering instruments of the single harmonic series. The other volumes will be: Ways to Expand the Harmonic Series, covering instruments that use methods such as slides, finger [End Page 442] holes, and keys to fill in notes outside the harmonic series; Valves Evolve, covering the development of various valve mechanisms in the nineteenth century; Heyday of the Cornet; and The Modern Trumpet, covering twentieth-century trumpet development. Although all of the instruments in the Utley collection will be described in the text, this is not simply a published version of the museum catalog. Rather, it is a narrative history of the major steps in high brass development, and examples are drawn from other museums and private collections to fill in gaps.
In this initial volume the narrative is not strictly chronological. Rather, the many instruments that produce their tones from a single harmonic series are grouped into broad categories, each of which is treated completely before turning to the next. The first chapter is entitled “Found in Nature” and covers instruments fashioned from organic materials, ranging from conch shell and animal horn to wood and bark, clay and pottery, and even human bones. This is followed by a chapter on “Prehistoric, Ancient, and Ethnic Trumpets and Signal Horns of Metal.” The “ethnic” metal instruments in the collection come from China, Tibet, India, and surprisingly, South Carolina. The latter is a so-called “plantation trumpet,” made as late as 1993 but supposedly representing a long-standing, if highly localized tradition. None of the prehistoric and ancient instruments described are to be found in the Utley Collection, but this is not surprising given that the extant examples are rare antiquities unlikely to be available to a private collector. Their depiction does provide useful context for the chapters that follow.
This brings us to the heart of the volume: six chapters outlining the development of the European trumpet from the fourteenth century through the baroque era to the end of the eighteenth century. Particular attention is lavished on instruments manufactured in Nuremberg in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. There are only seven Nuremberg instruments in the collection, but they represent the pinnacle of the baroque trumpet makers’ art, and Klaus devotes fifty pages to their history and detailed descriptions of every element, right down to the decorations on the ferrules that protect the joints between sections. A shorter chapter on trumpet making in Britain follows, after which there is only passing mention of activity in other German cities, Prague and Vienna, as well as France, Italy, and Portugal.
The second lengthiest chapter in the book covers “Bugles, Hunting and Post Horns, Fanfare and Signal Trumpets,” and here the length derives mainly from the sheer number and variety of instruments to be described, ranging from simple sickle-shaped horns...