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MAHLER 1: low f-Trumpets should sound lower than the do??



 
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slalomee
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Joined: 13 May 2024
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Location: Germany

PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2024 9:02 am    Post subject: MAHLER 1: low f-Trumpets should sound lower than the do?? Reply with quote

Dear trumpet experts,
I am new to the platform and not even a trumpet player myself (musicologist, piano and violin player...), so please excuse me if I may be asking something that is entirely clear to you or has been answered in another discussion:

My question concerns the transposition of the f- trumpets Mahler uses in general and the first "Ferntrompeten" entrance in Mahler 1, 1st Movement, b22:
I was under the impression that Mahler's F-trumpets were "low" F-trumpets, that is, they sound a forth lower than notated. (I am aware that most orchestras already used B trumpets by that time and transposed the f notation, but that shouldn't really change the sounding pitch).
However, in all recordings I've checked so far, the 1. trumpets (f trumpets) sound a fourth higher than notated, that ist e'' and a' (instead of the lower e' and a). The second trumpet (in b!) then stays below the 1. trumpets (a' and e'). If the low f trumpets really transposed down it should be the other was around, b-trumpet 2 should sound higher than the low f-trumpets.
– What am I missing here? Am I getting it wrong at one point? Or are all orchestras/ recordings misinformed? Can you help me out here?? Thank you!
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Jon Kaplan
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Joined: 14 Aug 2009
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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2024 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The F trumpet Mahler was writing for was indeed low, however the notational convention was still based on low natural trumpets, in which written low C in the treble clef is actually the third partial C on natural trumpets. This means the high C in Mahler 2 for example would be a 12th partial G above high C on the low F trumpet.

Players back then would get very frustrated about these ultra high licks that were easy to “frack” like various Strauss, Wagner, and Mahler licks, and would even occasionally cut down their low F trumpets into Bb trumpets to try to make things easier (something which composers would have little idea was happening in the darkness of some home workshop somewhere). Trumpet players really haven’t changed much, have we? 😃

Long story short - A soprano F trumpet would certainly make some of the more athletic high licks in Mahler easier, but it certainly wouldn’t be the trumpet that Mahler *thought* he was writing for.
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trpt.hick
Rafael Méndez Forum Moderator


Joined: 16 Jul 2004
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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2024 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like almost all composers (except Rimsky-Korsakov and Shostakovich) during the Romantic period, Mahler wrote alto F trumpet parts an octave lower than they should have been. This means that when playing these parts on the modern B-flat or C trumpets, the music should be transposed UP a perfect fifth or fourth (respectfully) to sound where intended.

Kaplan is correct in that most composers during the 19th and early 20th centuries were trained to write for the natural trumpets (alto D or C, usually), and they merely followed this same practice of notation.

So, unless the part says Alta (or Alto) F, E, D-flat, or D, transpose up when using the modern C or B-flat trumpets. If marked Alta," transpose down.

Dave Hickman
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slalomee
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Joined: 13 May 2024
Posts: 2
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2024 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is really amazing. Thank you very much, I had studied some literature on brass instruments and especially trumpets in Mahler's time already, but it is really hard to get this kind of information. I will treasure it and use it wisely!
Anne Holzmüller
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