TO THE BACK OF THE CONCERT HALL

THE EVOLUTION OF BACH STRADIVARIUS C TRUMPETS

Part Two

(Roy Hempley)

 

 

SYNOPSIS OF PART ONE

 

            Bach made just over 70 C trumpets between 1925 and the beginning of World War Two.  The period was one of almost continual experimentation.  From smaller bore, short C trumpets, Bach systematically progressed through larger and larger bore sizes and longer C trumpets while trying to find the right combination of components (bells and mouthpipes) to produce the sound he was seeking.

 

            Bach was greatly influenced in his efforts by Mager and other French-born trumpet players in the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO).  Through extensive modification and design, Bach finally produced some high quality C trumpets closer to his liking, but World War Two stopped his efforts.  By that time, however, he had a good start on the layout of his C trumpets.  On the other hand, he did not have adequate components to match either the layout he was using or the larger bore sizes.  He had not finished the job by the time the war arrived.

 

 OVERVIEW OF PART TWO

 

            Part Two of this article continues the description the evolution of Bach's C trumpets.  It describes approximately 450 trumpets.  Because of the numbers, the data were more difficult to assemble.  Once that was done, however, the analysis was much easier than that of Part One because Bach’s approach became clearer.

 

            The post-war story actually starts during World War Two when there was an important collaboration between Bach and Mager.  That is discussed first.  Before Bach could put the results of that effort into production after the war, he produced a few C trumpets in the pre-war 1942 configuration to tide him over.  The project with Mager failed, and almost immediately, Bach took out a clean sheet of paper and started anew.  This time he had an advantage.  He knew what not to try, and his efforts were successful as a characteristic sound he liked emerged.  From then on, Bach’s efforts were refinements trying to better good results.

 

            Before starting through a narrative of Bach’s developments, three associated pairs of charts are presented to lay out Bach's entire production of post-war C trumpets.  Each pair describes the production schedules of a specific bore size from the end of World War Two until he sold his company in 1961.  Data are extracted from these charts to focus on major developments over those years.

 

DURING WORLD WAR TWO

 

During World War Two, all but the barest of C trumpet development efforts stopped.  Materials were hard to get, and Bach's workers were either drafted into the military or moved to higher paying war production jobs.  Only a limited amount is known about how Bach kept his plant in operation, but there is evidence that he managed to spend some time working on new ideas for his C trumpets.

 

Part One establishes an enduring relationship between Bach and Mager that dated back to the 1920s.  Then in 1943 the two collaborated on a C trumpet design that altered Bach’s concepts.  The idea from this collaboration seemed to fit better with Bach's notions, at least temporarily.

 

The immediate result of this collaboration was a modified Bach Stradivarius C trumpet, #4071.  Discussed to some extent in Part One, this was one of the many trumpets originally modified in Bach’s 1938 experimental trials.

 

            Trumpet #4071 was modified for the second time in 1943.  The main alteration was an altered telescoping tuning slide that fit more with Bach's ideas about such “conical” slides, as Bach tended to call them.  The shop card for this trumpet is one of the most detailed cards Bach left.  The modifications are shown on the shop card below.

 

Figure 1: Shop Card--Trumpet #4071
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

            This card is a newer style card than the cards of other trumpets with similar serial numbers.  The original card from May of 1938 might have explained the modifications made at that time too, but it is no longer in Bach’s files.  At least the newer card was filled in with relevant data for the November 1943 modification.

 

For this trumpet, Bach made all of the important entries on its card himself.  The most important observation is the use of standard Bach bore sizes for components of the telescoping tuning slide, i.e., from 0.453 to 0.459 inches.  This is a medium-large bore trumpet, so these dimensions can be compared to those of the medium-large bore trumpets in the 1940 Suite (Part One), which are quite different.  This trumpet should be considered a "transitional" C trumpet from previous telescoping tuning slide schemes to one many readers would be familiar with, i.e., the scheme used in Bach's Vindobona trumpets.  Those trumpets use standard bore size diameters for the tuning slide components also.

 

            In addition to the dimensions of the telescoping tuning slide, this trumpet is noted to have a very thin bell, about 0.016 inches thick, as indicated by the gauge code 40.  It also has an adaptation of the #7 Bb mouthpipe on it.  The mouthpipe is naturally shorter than the #7 mouthpipe used on Bb trumpets, but the taper is the same with the possible exception that the small opening may have been enlarged slightly.  This trumpet became the basis for a short-lived design effort in 1946.

 

Interestingly, the shop card for trumpet #4071 indicates that this was Mager's C trumpet.  As discussed in Part One, this trumpet is the trumpet he was using when Herseth began studying with him after World War Two.

 

            As mentioned above, eight large-bore 1942 Models were made in 1945.  These probably were identical to trumpet #5379 (Part One), but four of them were later modified, and one of them became an X Horn (see Reference 5) and was given a new serial number that would make it appear to be a late Mt Vernon model.  These trumpets are shown on the first chart presented below.

 

AFTER WORLD WAR TWO

 

            The charts that follow set the stage for discussing important advances in Bach's C trumpets.  There are three pairs of associated charts spanning the period from the end of the war until Bach sold his company near the end of 1961.  The first pair describes Bach's production of large bore C trumpets.  The eight 1942 Model trumpets discussed immediately above are shown as the earliest entry on the top chart in that pair.  The next two pairs of charts similarly describe production of medium-large and medium bore C trumpets.

 

Figure 2: Large Bore C Trumpet Production
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

            The top chart is an interval chart somewhat similar to the one presented in Part One except that it contains information only for large bore trumpets.  Production intervals (in yellow) for each configuration (in blue) are shown.  The number of trumpets made in each configuration (in red) is included in their respective production interval boxes.  The bottom chart shows the cumulative number of large bore Bach C trumpet made by the end of the year indicated.

 

It may not be obvious how to correlate time on the two charts.  The eight large bore C trumpets made during 1945, as indicated in the top chart, are shown on the bottom chart above the 1945 tick mark.  Showing dates of an interval chart on the same time scale as a production year end-date chart causes an apparent contradiction, but it makes for a useful correlation.

 

On the lower production rate chart, the lines connecting the end points of each year on the production chart are not meant to indicate the rate at which trumpets were made during the year. They do, however, indicate overall trends from year to year.

 

Two more pairs of charts follow: one pair for medium-large bore and medium bore C trumpets.

 

Figure 3: Medium-large Bore C Trumpet Production
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

           

Figure 4: Medium Bore C Trumpet Production
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

            There are a lot of observations that might be made from the three pairs of charts before selecting major configurations to discuss.  One of the keys to understanding these charts can be found in the post-war redesign points as indicated on the overall production chart in Part One.  Those points were around 1947, just before Bach’s move to Mt Vernon in 1953 and in the middle of Mt Vernon production around 1956/7.  Most observations regarding Bach’s C trumpet production relate to time periods defined by these end points and the sale of his company.  There are three such periods.  They are referred to in the following as the late New York period, the early Mt Vernon period and the late Mt Vernon period.

 

            It is obvious from the large bore charts above that large bore C trumpet production accelerated at the end of World War Two and continued at about the same rate upward except for the years just preceding the move to Mt Vernon in 1953.  About 180 large bore C trumpets were produced.

 

             Medium-large bore C trumpet production increased somewhat during the early Mt Vernon years but accelerated greatly during late Mt Vernon years.  The production rate in this last production period was so high that Bach ended up producing more medium-large bore C trumpets than large bore trumpets—about 210.

 

            Medium bore C trumpets almost disappeared from Bach’s consideration.  The charts show continued stagnation of medium bore C trumpet production carrying over from the mid-1940s.  Only sporadic production is evident until the late Mt Vernon period when medium bore C trumpets rejoined Bach’s offerings in some earnestness.

 

            Major Developments After World War Two

 

            The period immediately following World War Two was hectic for Bach.  Essentially he had to start his business over again.  In particular, he had to train almost an entirely new workforce.  That probably accounts for him starting with trumpets he worked on before and during the war.

 

            Looking at the three interval charts, it is obvious that Bach’s initial focus was on large bore C trumpets as it had been immediately before the war.  The first trumpets made were the eight 1942 Models using the #106 cornet bell.  The next ones (12 in all) were based on Bach’s collaboration with Mager—10 large bore and 2 medium-large bore.  As with the 1942 Models, no specialized bell was available, so the #11 bell was used.  It is obvious from the data, however, that when Bach’s business began to recuperate, he began experimenting again.

 

 

            Almost Down The Wrong Path

 

Part One mentioned three technical drawings important to understanding Bach's C trumpet development.  The first drawing discussed in that part was identified as the 1925 Drawing.   Bach's wartime collaboration with Mager resulted in the second of the three drawings.  The boilerplate from that drawing, called in this article the 1946 Drawing, is shown below.  Included in the boilerplate are some aspects Bach expected to use in these C trumpets.  From other information on the drawing, the focus was to be C trumpets he called a “special light weight" trumpets with "conical" tuning slide.

 

Figure 5: 1946 Drawing Boilerplate
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

For his telescoping tuning slides, Bach chose an approach based on his modification to Mager's trumpet, #4071.  The major difference between that trumpet and the 10 production large bore trumpets is that expansion of the tuning slides used three of Bach's standard bore sizes instead of two.  The dimensions are shown in the boilerplate beginning with his medium bore size (0.453 inches) in the upper tuning slide leg, moving to his medium-large bore size (0.459 inches) in the crook and then moving to large his bore size (0.462 inches) in the lower tuning slide leg.  Two more trumpets with the same bell and mouthpipe were made in medium-large bore size.  These two are thought to have been made to the same design except for the bore size.  They were probably quite similar to Mager’s trumpet but used a different bell.

 

As for Bach’s reference to "light weight" on the drawing, the bell thickness at 0.018 inches may not be the only thing about the trumpet design that might be considered lightweight.  In 1947, Bach began making Bb and, perhaps, C trumpets designated as “special light weight”.  The brass in the tuning and valve slides of these trumpets was thinner than normal.  On the other hand, the 1946 Drawing calls for brass of standard thickness.  Since none of these trumpets were located, neither the bell brass thickness nor the actual slide thickness in the 12 trumpets has been verified one way or the other.

 

As far as the drawing is concerned, no specific bell was designated for these trumpets, but the #7 mouthpipe was specified.  As shown on the interval charts, the #11 bell was used, but the drawing did not specify a bell choice.  Bell #11 was not designed for these trumpets.  It was introduced in the early 1930s for medium bore Mercedes trumpets and eventually adapted for use on Stradivarius medium-large bore trumpets and large bore cornets.  This is another case where Bach did not appear to be prepared with a bell specifically designed for large bore C trumpets. 

 

            Efforts to correlate the data on this drawing to the shop cards were only partially successful.  As for whether this was the first time Bach used this telescoping scheme on large bore trumpets will have to be determined by investigating his Bb trumpet line.

 

To summarize this effort, 12 trumpets were found that were probably made to the specifications of the 1946 Drawing design with some exceptions.  Ten of them were large bore trumpets and two were medium-large bore trumpets.  Many of these trumpets were modified.  Four shop cards actually identify the respective trumpets as 1946 Models despite a noted discrepancy in the bell brass thickness.  Only two of that four indicated that no modifications were made to the trumpets.  In a very real sense, a good case can be made that none of the 1946 trumpets were ever made exactly as specified in the technical drawing because of discrepancies between the drawing and the data shown on the shop cards.  A trumpet to verify the data on the drawing could not be found.

 

            Prominent Late New York C Trumpet Configurations

 

The years 1946 and 1947 were characterized by extensive experimenting to find components to go with designs eventually documented in Bach’s 1948 Drawing.  He tried the #226 and #231 bells in 1946 and #227, #229 and #231 bells in 1947.  He coupled those with three different mouthpipes: #7, #207 and #209, but all of those mouthpipes were holdovers from before the war.  (The components can be correlated with bore sizes by examining the three interval charts shown above.)  In all, Bach tried seven new trumpet configurations over the two years--four large bores, two medium-large bores and one medium bore.  A listing of Bach’s efforts is not as important as the results.  The most important point is that the picture began to clear in 1947 with the introduction of the #229 bell for his large bore C trumpets and the #227 bell his for medium-large bore trumpets.

 

            The boiler plate of the 1948 Drawing, the most important of the three Bach C trumpet drawings, is shown below.  This drawing was completed early in 1948, but trumpets were made in accordance with its standards before that year.

 

Figure 6: 1948 Drawing Boilerplate
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

            The drawing itself was made using a new technique.  Bach began putting his measurement on transparencies.  That data could be changed fairly easily.  Then the transparency could be overlaid on a technical drawing of a trumpet.  The technical drawings had no measurements on them.  Photographing both the transparency and the underlying drawing created a completed drawing with new data.  This was an advantage to Bach because it reduced clutter on the drawing currently in use, but these drawings lost the "history" of the design changes as they occurred.  For this reason, the 1948 Drawing is not as informative as the 1925 Drawing.  Moreover, the last changes made to the 1948 Drawing appear to stem from 1948 when, in fact, they actually show data representing late Mt Vernon designs.  As a result, Conn-Selmer considers it to contain proprietary information.  The drawing does contain known omissions, however.

 

To read any of the three drawings accurately, most particularly the 1948 Drawing, instruments have to be compared to help verify the data.  Readers with a greater interest in Bach C trumpets might want to know that research done on Chicago C trumpets was done using the 1948 Drawing.  As mentioned above, the data on the 1948 Drawing represents the late Mt Vernon design, and of course the Chicago Cs were made before then.  The differences had to be determined by examining instruments in order to recreate the layout specific to those trumpets.  (This story can be reviewed in Reference 7.)

 

FINALLY--TO THE BACK OF THE CONCERT HALL

 

            The two most important configurations to emerge between during the late New York period are shown below.

 

(A) 1947 - 1950: #229 Bell/#7 Mouthpipe--0.462-Inch Bore

(B) 1947 - 1948: #227 Bell/#7 Mouthpipe--0.459-Inch Bore

 

            Thirty two large bore trumpets in configuration (A) were made over a four-year period.  Exactly half that number of medium-large bore trumpets was made in configuration (B) over a two-year span.  While the bells were different, both configurations used a version of the #7 mouthpipe.  The layouts of the trumpets in the two configurations are identical in almost all respects.

 

            One of the trumpets in configuration (A), #7352, is owned and used by George Vosburgh, the principal trumpet player in the Pittsburgh Symphony.  Vosburgh came to Pittsburgh from the Chicago Symphony where he used that symphony’s Chicago C.  Trumpet #7352 was his second trumpet when he played in Chicago. 

 

            In many respects, trumpets in configuration (A) appropriately can be considered the forerunner of the Chicago Cs.  A picture of trumpet #7352 is shown below.  It was not examined in detail for this article.  The photograph was taken in Pittsburgh.

 

Figure 7: Bach Stradivarius C Trumpet #7352
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

            Fortunately, a trumpet from configuration (B), #7712, was located for examination.  It is shown at the top in the photograph below.  A relatively minor difference between it and the trumpet shown above lies in the first valve slides.  Both feature first-valve tuning, but the parts were made in different styles even though the trumpets were built only a couple of months apart.

 

            The layout of trumpet #7712 and, by extension, the trumpet shown above (#7352) can be compared to the 1942 large bore models represented by #5379 featured in Part One.  Trumpet #5379 is below trumpet #7712 in the photograph below.

 

Figure 8: Bach Stradivarius Trumpets #7712 and #5379
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

            Trumpet #7712’s longer tuning slide assembly is moved further to the rear, which essentially completes the changeover from short model to long model C trumpets.  Its tuning slide assembly is actually 1/8 inch longer than that of trumpet #5379, but that does not account entirely for the position of its mouthpiece receiver compared to that of trumpet #5379.  Although difficult to see, the layout of trumpet #7712 has other adjustments in the bell bend and bell length to complete the changeover to the newer design.

 

            One interesting feature of trumpet #7712 is the first valve tuning arrangement.  The reason for noting this is that this tuning slide was complex to manufacture requiring at least two additional parts compared to other late New York and Mt Vernon trumpets.

 

            The post-war trumpets, including #7712, represent a marked departure in sound characteristics from the earlier ones.  These trumpets have substantial carrying power as well as desirable tone qualities at both ends of the power spectrum.  They also serve to break Bach completely from both French and German influences.  These, in fact, are the first trumpets to achieve the Bach sound often spoke of regarding Bach C trumpets.

 

            Prominent Early Mt Vernon C Trumpet Configurations

 

            Unlike the experiments immediately after World War Two, new experiments leading into Mt Vernon production was done on medium-large bore trumpets.  It these, Bach tried the #228 and #236 bells and #25 mouthpipe in various combinations.  These experiments also included adaptations of other post-war successes, most notably the #229 bell.  Astute readers will note that the #25 mouthpipe was first used on the medium-large bore trumpets.  This was Bach’s first post-war mouthpipe used on his C trumpets.

 

            Bach liked the #25 mouthpipe.  When production in Mt Vernon began in 1953, he featured it on both his large and medium-large bore trumpets coupled with the #229 bell.  It is tempting to say that the #25 mouthpipe was the second adaptation of a Bb mouthpipe for C trumpet use.  That is not actually known.  Just as the medium-large bore size was first used on C trumpet (rather than a Bb trumpet), the #25 mouthpipe may have been first used on a C trumpet also.  The answer to the question about which use came first will have to wait until an analysis of Bach's Bb trumpets can be completed.

 

            Readers interested in additional information on the #25 mouthpipe should read through Reference 7.  There are at least four known versions of this mouthpipe.  Finding the most obscure one required measuring instruments instead of relying on technical data in Bach's files.  A major point is that the #25 mouthpipes used during this period of manufacturing are not the same as those being made today.  At least one of them was very unusual.

 

            In effect, Mt Vernon production began with two new configurations.  Those are noted below.

 

(C) 1952 - 1955: #229 Bell/#25 Mouthpipe--0.462-Inch Bore

(D) 1953 - 1956: #227 Bell/#25 Mouthpipe--0.459-Inch Bore

 

            These two designs became the mainstays of early Mt Vernon production.  These early trumpets were also modernized in more subtle ways too.  Some of those will be illustrated in the photograph below.

 

Figure 9: Bach Stradivarius Trumpets #7712 and #13964
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

            The above photograph shows trumpet #7712 on top with one of the Chicago C-style trumpets, #13964, below it.  (Trumpet #13964 is the featured trumpet from Reference 7.)

 

            The most notable change to trumpet #13,964 is its slightly increased tuning slide width compared to trumpet #7712.  Alterations in other areas compensated for the increase in acoustical length in the tuning slide.

 

            As unusual as it is for a Bach trumpet of this era, the first valve tuning on trumpet #13964 is original although not standard for early Mt Vernon trumpets.

 

            Mt Vernon also brought new production efficiencies.  As mentioned earlier, it took two less parts to manufacture the first valve tuning arrangement on Mt Vernon trumpets compared to some of the late New York models.  The Mt Vernon trumpets also streamlined the designs in that some adornments were eliminated.  For example, a ring on the rear of the third valve tuning slide is visible on trumpet #7712 in the above photograph.  That ring no longer appears on the early Mt Vernon trumpets.

 

            Prominent Late Mt Vernon Trumpet Configurations

           

            Bach went through one more alteration to his C trumpets at Mt Vernon during 1956 and 1957.  He tried bells #237, #238 and #239, but no new mouthpipes of interest were tried.  Bach did resurrect his medium bore C trumpets coupling his earlier #236 bell with the #25 mouthpipe for the first time.  Despite the fact that 25 medium bore C trumpets were made with this combination of components, this particular configuration is not considered a major development.  Bach seems to have introduced it as a matter of completeness to his line of trumpets before he sold his company.

 

(E) 1956 - 1961: #239 Bell/#25 Mouthpipe--0.462-Inch Bore

(F)  1957 - 1961: #239 Bell/#25 Mouthpipe--0.459-Inch Bore

 

            Production quantities increased during the late Mt Vernon period to over 40 C trumpets per year.  Over 80 percent of the large bore trumpets were produced in configuration (E) described above.  It is a little more difficult to cite configuration (F) as the sole important configuration for medium-large bore trumpets.  Over 30 medium-large bore trumpets were made with #237 bells and #25 mouthpipes and over another 30 were made with #238 bells and #25 mouthpipes.  Given the timing and number trumpets made in configuration (F) (over 90 trumpets), however, it has to be considered the most important.

 

            The most notable feature of the above configurations is that they both use the same bell and mouthpipe.  While this is the not the first instance of using the same components for different bore sized instruments, it is perhaps the most surprising.  There is one other surprising aspect of these and the other late Mt Vernon C trumpets.  Bach discontinued use of the #229 bell after this last design change.  Said another way, he considered the #239 bell the appropriate bell for his late Mt Vernon C trumpets.

 

Major Alteration--Tuning Slide Width Increased--Again

 

            The late Mt Vernon trumpets (both Bb and C) changes are recognizable to most trumpet players.  The major change of course was in the width of the tuning slide.  This change was larger than the width increase heading into Mt Vernon.  It fact, it was about 50 percent greater than the earlier increase.  That, in turn, forced a redesign of the entire layout of Bach’s trumpets.  Among other changes, the bell bend and mouthpipe assembly dimensions were altered to compensate.  As an item of interest, this change shortened the mouthpipe itself by a quarter of an inch.  The commonly accepted six-inch Bach mouthpipe resulted from this alteration.

 

The photograph shown below illustrates the change in layout on the late Mt Vernon trumpets.

Figure 10: Bach Stradivarius Trumpets #13960 and #17635
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

            The above photograph is spliced from two individual photographs taken at different times and under obviously different lighting conditions.  Nonetheless, the increased width of the tuning slide on the late Mt Vernon trumpet on the bottom, #17635, is obvious when it is compared to that of early Mt Vernon trumpet, #13960.  The two trumpets represent the change from the early to late Mt Vernon designs.  The difference in the bell bends is not discernible.  The change in the length of the mouthpipe assembly would be more obvious had these two trumpets been compared on a pegboard as in the other comparative photographs presented in this article.

 

            The Last Years

 

            Bach’s sale of his company to the Selmer Company was in the planning for at least two years and maybe longer.  No major work was done on Bach’s C trumpets during this period.  Ownership changed hands in early October 1961.  Other efforts were underway for the transition and even the introduction of some new models (Minerva).

 

             No research has been done on Bach’s C trumpet during the Selmer Company’s ownership at Mt Vernon.  C trumpets made from 1961 until the move to Elkhart are probably identical to those of Bach’s late Mt Vernon manufacturing period.  Bach’s last configuration of large bore trumpets using the #239 bell and #25 mouthpipe, configuration (F), is still identified as the standard large bore Bach C trumpet configuration today despite the popularity of the #229 bell.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

Steve Hendrickson, principal trumpet player with the National Symphony Orchestra, took it upon himself to act as tutor, spending hours impressing the needs of the modern orchestral player and how trumpets of various manufacturers help meet those needs.  George Vosburgh, principal trumpet player of the Pittsburgh Symphony, spent considerable time discussing Bach trumpet design.  Exchanging views on this subject was a highlight of the research for this article.  Tom Rolfs, Jr, principal trumpet player with the Boston Symphony Orchestra provided help researching the BSO archives, and Douglas Yeo, bass trombonist with the BSO, provided BSO history from his Web site and by e-mail.  Bud Herseth spent time discussing his involvement with Georges Mager, Vincent Bach and his early experiences in joining the Chicago Symphony.  Gil Mitchell, a personal friend of Vincent Bach, provided information about his entry into the orchestral world as well as his insights about Bach.  Tilden Olsen, trumpet student at Carnegie Melon University, and Chris Culpeppers answered requests for research instruments published in the Bachology section of Conn-Selmer’s Web site.  Major support was provided by Tedd Waggoner, Director of Bach Operations at Conn-Selmer, Inc.  He provided access to Bach data that can be found sprinkled liberally throughout this article.

 

For additional insights into help and support in writing this article, please see the Addendum.

 


TO THE BACK OF THE CONCERT HALL

ADDENDUM

(Roy Hempley)

 

            Readers of this article probably are going to have some trouble understanding the connection between the background and the sections describing trumpets.  There is simply not enough information presented in either section to arrive at clear cause and effect relationships.  I cannot tell exactly why Bach’s C trumpets evolved differently than his Bb trumpets.  I do know that they did.  I also know that there is uncertainty reflected in the data and that this was uncharacteristic of data related to Bach’s other developments.  His push to build good Bb trumpets seems almost systematic by comparison.  Bach changed directions on his C trumpets so many times that it seems like his methods were not working.

 

            My problems understanding the data stopped preparation of this article in its tracks while I tried to make some sense of the situation.  I knew that Bach focused on making orchestral-quality C trumpets.  I found that clearly stated in his earliest catalog.  Strangely, there is no mention of orchestral applications for his piston valve Bb Stradivarius trumpets.  He does talk about using his rotary valve Bb trumpet for orchestral use.  What he had to say about those appears in Reference 1, but his catalog entry for rotary valve trumpets almost seems to be an afterthought.  The page describing them is located near the end of his catalog right after pages on his Apollo and Mercury trumpets.  His rotary valve trumpets are not even given a model name, e.g., Stradivarius.  Taken as a whole, there is no doubt that his catalog focuses on his C trumpets for orchestral applications.

 

            Given his three choices of instruments Bach might have promoted for orchestral use (piston and rotary valve Bb trumpets and C trumpets), it seems almost self defeating to choose C trumpets in the 1920s unless there was some motivation to head in that direction.  Bach not only chose the most difficult path by promoting C trumpets, it was also the riskiest because he had no assurances that the orchestral community would follow along.  To make matters even worse, as far as I have been able to determine, Bach had no real experience with C trumpets.

 

            After thinking about this for some time, I concluded that I had to explore a little what Bach may have seen in American orchestras to lead him down this path.  Writing about orchestras and orchestral trumpets was way outside of my realm.  In a nutshell, I had to have help.  Quite a few people did their best to provide me with some much needed education.  Like anything else, getting 90 percent of an answer takes some time, but getting the other 10 percent takes a lot longer.  I do not want to be an expert on the orchestral movement in the Unites States.  I simply wanted to explore some ideas about where Bach may have thought he was headed and, more importantly, why.  In the end, I gathered about as much as I was going to get without delving into the harder 10 percent, and I decided to write down what I had learned even if certain aspects were not entirely clear.

 

            This article goes hand in hand with my experience trying to resurrect a Chicago C-type trumpet discussed in Reference 7.  That article is a good place to start.  Not only does it explain my background, mechanical engineer and amateur trumpet player, but it describes how I got into the subject of Bach C trumpets in the first place.  It also points out the difficulty of determining exactly what might go into making a successful trumpet.

 

            What all of this meant is that I had to understand a little of the “market” Bach was trying to open and what may have been influencing him.  That led me to talk to some very knowledgeable, talented and gracious people.  I decided in this addendum to relate some of my experiences along the way.  I will not talk about people in order of importance.  They were all important to me.

 

            My efforts to understand the situation ran in parallel to analyzing the data for a time.  Then I was able to get feedback between the two efforts.  I would learn something about early orchestral applications, and I would try to see what the data told me.  If I found something in the data I didn’t understand, I would try to correlate that with my “external” investigation.  Eventually, I think enough of the two paths jelled.  Sequentially, something like the following happened.

 

            After writing my earlier article about the Chicago C trumpets, I realized that I had a lot of unused data on hands.  Yet I needed access to more trumpets.  If I’ve learned one thing since I began writing about Bach instruments, it’s that his data alone don’t tell enough of the story.

 

            I eventually ran an “advertisement” for C trumpets in the “Bachology Notes” section of Conn-Selmer’s Web site, and I got some responses.  One response came from a Bach owner named Chris Culpeppers who trusted me with his Bach C trumpet.  It is in nearly original condition.  My co-author, Doug Lehrer, also loaned me some C trumpets.  All of these instruments turned out to be valuable resources.

 

            The champion responder, however, is an outstanding young trumpet player with a real interest in the tools of his trade.  His name is Tilden Olsen.  Tilden is a trumpet student at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and studies with George Vosburgh, the principal trumpet player in the Pittsburgh Symphony.  All I knew when Tilden contacted me, however, was that he owned several vintage Bach C trumpets.

 

            Of course I wanted to convince Tilden to loan me his trumpets.  Not only did he agree, but he said that he and his father would bring them to my house.  Tilden was 17 years old then.  When I learned Tilden was coming and bringing trumpets, I called a friend of mine, Steve Hendrickson, the principal trumpet player in the National Symphony.  Steve and I had opportunities to talk about C trumpets on previous occasions as I was writing about my Chicago C-style trumpet.  This was a special event, however, because I was going to have eight vintage Bach C trumpets at my house at the same time.  Steve readily agreed to come over.  He even brought his new Yamaha, and I got a look at that too.

 

Early on November 18th, 2006, Tilden and his father arrived.  A little while later, Steve showed up.

 

Figure A1: Left--Steve Hendrickson, Right--Tilden Olsen
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

            I chose to show this particular picture for several reasons.  The table on the right is where I do my work.  Some tools are on top.   Boxes some of the trumpets were shipped in are underneath.  Copies of two of Bach’s technical drawings are on the wall.  Trial photographs of instruments for articles are on the wall too.  (My photography room is down the hall behind Steve.)

 

            The trumpets I researched for this article are on the table in front of Steve and Tilden.  I now have detailed technical notes on all of them.  Copies of their respective shop cards are on the table so we could identify the configurations of the instruments.

 

            This was an interesting session in that I got to hear eight vintage Bach C trumhpets played one after another.  I asked Steve to make notes of his impression about each trumpet on index cards.

 

            Tilden was more helpful than just bringing trumpets.  He told me about another bunch of vintage Bach trumpets in Pittsburgh.  He suggested I meet with the owners.

 

            It was about this time that I realized that I had assembled enough data to confuse myself.  As I mentioned earlier, I needed some help trying to unscramble what seemed to be Bach’s uncharacteristic behavior, which can be described best by the word “chaotic”.  I thought I might get some more background in Pittsburgh, so I arranged to meet with the owners of the trumpets Tilden told me about.  That was on December 16, 2006.

 

Figure A2: Left to Right: George Vosburgh, Jon Zellhart, Tilden Olsen, Chad Winkler, Jerry Gaudi
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

              I met with George Vosburgh and others in Heinz Hall.  Jon, Tilden and Jerry are students.  Chad is the substitute trumpet player for the symphony.  I spent the afternoon with these guys.  They played on all of the trumpets, and I learned a great deal listening to them.

 

            Here’s something I learned.  Orchestral trumpet players have more than a big group of musicians to deal with.  They have to contend with those big concert halls too.  Filled with people, that’s a daunting environment.  It’s no wonder they have to search for just the right trumpet.  In the first place, they have to blow through that mess without killing themselves.  Then, they have to sound good while doing it.  Coming to those notions is what gave me the idea for the title to this article “To the Back Of the Concert Hall” where even people sitting in the cheap seats still pay pretty hefty prices to hear trumpets played with brilliance and clarity.  Some of these concert halls are not that great in helping out trumpet players either.

 

            Listening to George and the others gave me the decided notion that some of the older Bachs might not cut it.  Of course the question for me became, “Why not?”

 

            I got quite a few new insights later talking to George and some of his students.  George has a lot of experience with vintage Bach trumpets.  He played on one of the Chicago Cs for years before coming to Pittsburgh.  The trumpet he’s currently using is a New York Bach.  He used it as backup in Chicago, but it sounds pretty good as his main trumpet.  Maybe George has something to do with that.

 

            Later in the day, I had an opportunity to meet the other Pittsburgh trumpet players, Neal Bertsen and Charles Lirette.  Neal ran off with Mager’s trumpet just before he was due on stage for a late afternoon concert.  I wondered if I was going to get it back before the performance started.  I did, and it was a good thing too.  I had to head back to Virginia.  I asked Neal to loan me the mouthpipe from his New York Bach to take to Elkhart and measure.  Later he did.  Now there’s trust for you.

 

            It wasn’t long after my trip to Pittsburgh that I reviewed Doug Yeo’s article on the trumpet players of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO).  I had seen it before when I was looking up Bach’s playing background for my article entitled “Play It Again, Mr. Bach”, and I knew that he played in the BSO for a year.  This time Doug’s article tweaked my interest even more because it contains several pre-World War Two pictures of BSO trumpet players holding Bach C trumpets.  One of them was Georges Mager.

 

            Eventually I talked to Doug about the pictures in his article.  He tried to arrange access to them from the current owner, but that fell through.  While I couldn’t get permission to use the pictures, they are almost identical to the one I bought on Ebay and scanned for this article.  Doug did suggest that I talk to Tom Rolfs, Jr., the principal trumpet player in the BSO in hopes that the BSO records might make some mention of those trumpets.

 

            Tom too takes an interest in vintage trumpets, particularly those related to the BSO.  He was unsuccessful in finding information on the trumpets in the BSO archives.  He even ventured to look for them in the BSO storerooms.  He couldn’t locate anything.  Tom suggested that I might want to talk to Roger Voisin because Roger appears in the pictures.

 

            I had several conversations with Roger beginning in early 2007.  Roger could not have been kinder or more patient.  He even provided two pronunciations of “Voisin”, one of them French and one with an English flavor.  He simultaneously seemed to take great delight in the fact that an “outsider”, as he identified me, was taking an interest in BSO history as well as wanting to impart stories about the old days.  Roger had a decided take on the early days playing in the BSO, and he seemed very much to want me to appreciate some of his experiences.

 

             Roger brought up the pictures in Doug’s article, but he didn’t refer to the article itself.  He just seemed to recall such pictures being taken.  The pictures were amusing to him because he never played on a Bach.  On the other hand, we never arrived at an explanation for the pictures either.  I can almost understand something of the situation.  Roger was only seventeen when he joined the BSO, and the first of the two pictures was taken that year.  The next one was taken just four years later.  I’m sure that his father Rene was there to ensure that Roger was in the pictures.  If Rene had anything to do with those trumpets, however, I was never able to entice that out of Roger.

 

            Still, my interest in the pictures increased as I began to learn from Bach’s data that Mager was not only the principal trumpet player in the BSO, but he also sold Bach trumpets.  The story about the association between the two men began to unfold just a little.

 

            The question of why these guys in the BSO played on C trumpets stuck in the back of my mind, and I eventually recalled reading the article by Gil Mitchell about how orchestral trumpet players really didn’t play on C trumpets until after World War Two.  This provided something of a problem for me as I began to research all the trumpet players who I thought bought Bach C trumpets before the war.

 

            If you talked to Roger enough about Mager, the name of Bud Herseth was bound to come up.  Roger had a few stories to tell about him too.  Roger said that I might want to talk to Bud.  George Vosburgh had already suggested that, and so I did.

 

            Some people might like to know that the New England Conservatory of Music has a historian.  He provided me with a copy of all of Mager’s trumpet students.  I found Bud’s name right away.  I was looking for other names I might associate with names on Bach’s shop cards, but I didn’t find any.

 

            Bud remembers well when the Chicago Symphony got the Chicago Cs.  From my perspective, however, it was more important for me to know that Mager played on a Bach C trumpet.  This meant that he eventually came around to playing a Bach, but it was long after he began selling Bach instruments.

 

            It was also important to know that the Chicago players followed Bud’s lead in switching to C trumpets.  That provided something of an explanation about why I couldn’t find any evidence that any of the Chicago players had tried a Bach C trumpet before Bud got there.

 

            As time went on, I began putting together the story of this article.  Because there is no direct cause-and-effect relationship between what was happening in the orchestral environment and Bach’s early trumpet developments, I thought it would be a good idea to see if I could get the story in front of a few people for comments.  This is a pretty good way to see if the story holds together ok.  I put together a Power Point talk that lasts about an hour and a half.  While the content is somewhat different than the article, it sort of follows along the same lines.  I first gave the talk to Steve Hendrickson and a few other friends on August 21, 2007.

 

Figure A3: Left to Right: George Prosnik, Don Britton, Andy Anderson, Bill Wooten,

Noel Uri and Steve Hendrickson
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

            Except for Steve, none of the people in the photo are professional trumpet players.  This is a special group, however.  I’ve played in quintets with George for years.  Andy is sort of an ensemble organizer.  When time permits, he hosts an unusual group of trumpet players, including Don and Bill, which meets at his house.  What makes the group unusual is that it often consists of both professional and amateur trumpet players who just enjoy playing for self improvement as well as trying to make trumpet ensembles sound good.  The latter is no small task.  If you’re in the Washington area, it’s worth checking out whether Andy’s group is playing or not.

 

            Having played on and off with these guys, I knew I could rely on them to give me the real skinny on my talk.  To add a little spice to the trumpet players’ comments, I asked my friend Noel to join us.   Noel is not a trumpet player at all.  He plays tuba, but I don’t hold that against him.  Despite his predilection, I knew I could count on his opinion too because, well, tuba players are sort of outspoken.

 

            In my presentation, I sometimes use recordings of me playing a short tune from Arban on all eight of the C trumpets I researched, which I transposed.  Now, I don’t transpose that well, so working with that gave me time to get comfortable on each trumpet.  In the process, I formed decided opinions about them.  It’s my view that you can certainly detect the large-to-small bore size changes in the pre-World War Two trumpets.  The trumpets simply begin to feel more and more open.  This was due to more than the bore size increase, however.  The components were also being changed too.

 

            When I switched to the post-war trumpets, however, the difference between them and the pre-war trumpets was pronounced.  There was a big change in sound, and I could control the post-war trumpets much better.  Even I could make the sound spread when I wanted to.  I could also play with more energy, but I don’t think that there was a lot of difference between the large and medium-large bore post-war trumpets.  Then again, I didn’t have to send sound to that back of the concert hall either.

 

            Of course I don’t have to use any of these trumpets over a long period of time, so my impressions have to be thought of as initial impressions.  It’s entirely possible that I played on them a little like I anticipated.  I do this kind of mental adjustment all the time.  When I pick up a smaller bore trumpet, I tend to back off on it at first whether I need to or not.  In any case, as I’ll point out in a few paragraphs, I’m not really accustomed to having to make a trumpet behave.  With me, it’s more a matter of what the trumpet will provide for me.  At least that’s true until I get used to it.

 

            No one should think that the pre-war horns didn’t play well.  They just aren’t as manageable as the others as far as I’m concerned.  I don’t think they can project as well for different reasons in each case, and that’s one of the things I wanted to know about.  Of course now I would be concerned about looking at Steve’s opinions.  Suppose he disagrees with me?  Maybe I’ll get up enough courage to look at his opinions one of these days.  By that time, however, this will be in print.

 

            Part of my presentation contains recordings of Georges Mager playing part of the Promenade from Pictures on his Bach trumpet followed by Bud Herseth playing the same thing on his.  Talk about an interesting contrast.  I guess Georges didn’t teach it to Bud right.  Either that or Bud wanted to show his teacher some new tricks.  In any case, the differences led me to think that others might want to add their interpretations to the fray.  I set up music to the Promenade so that after my talk, everybody in attendance could play it on the vintage Bachs I still had in my possession.  The highlight of this for me was getting to play a duet version with Steve.  Steve played second.  He played in tune.

 

A few days later, Gil Mitchell was in town, so I arranged to give the talk to him on August 26, 2007.

 

Figure A4: Left to Right: Bill Seigfried, Gil Mitchell and Roy Hempley
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

            We talked a lot about Vincent Bach that day.  Gil was a close friend of Bach’s.  In fact, Bach gave Gil his music library, and he made a couple of special instruments for Gil.  Gil was responsible for the U.S. Army Band getting the so-called Kennedy bugle I wrote about in the articles on Bach’s bugles.  It’s always interesting to hear stories about the two of them when they were together.  This is one way I sort of probe into Bach’s personality, i.e., talking to people who knew him.

 

            Bill is a local trumpet player and teacher.  A graduate of the University of Indiana music school, he used to study trumpet with Gil too.  Bill works on Bach history himself, and he visits with me quite often.

 

            The poster on the wall behind us?  Well, that’s a picture of the Dreher High School Band in Columbia South Carolina—my band.  Frank Simon brought Sousa original manuscripts to Columbia and conducted our band in a memorial concert.  Ever play “The Red Man”?  The poster is the concert’s advertisement poster from 1955.  Playing solo cornet in a Sousa concert conducted by Frank Simon as a freshman—big stuff.

 

            Then who should come to town shortly afterwards but Jeffrey Work, the principal trumpet player in the Oregon Symphony.  Jeffrey and I had gotten together on a few occasions before he moved to Oregon to talk trumpet.  He stopped by my house on September 8, 2007.  It was nice to talk with him again.  It was also another opportunity to run my material by somebody knowledgeable.

 

Figure A5: Jeffrey Work
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

            Jeffrey is playing on Mager’s trumpet in the above photograph.  (That is not a Bach mouthpiece.)  Here’s the thing.  After listening to my talk, he played the same little Arban tune I used to try the trumpets out—from memory.  The problem for me was that the tune didn’t sound the same when Jeffrey played it.  It made me think that maybe I didn’t have a handle on how those pre-war trumpets sounded at all.  But, the fact is, I don’t have anywhere near the control on the sound of a trumpet that Jeffrey does.  He can probably make a shoebox sound good.  I’m not sure, but I think the trumpet has a bigger influence on my playing that it does on Jeffrey’s.  Actually, Jeffrey played the tune very delicately, and delicate is not in my arsenal.

 

            I should say something about the document on the wall to Jeffrey’s left.  It’s a copy of an historic blueprint of a Bach trumpet.  The original was made in 1921, some four years before Bach began production.  Nobody knows much about this period of time in Bach’s career.  This is one interesting blueprint.

 

            I can’t recall exactly now, but I think it was about this time I called Roger again to say I’d like to visit with him and bring my talk to Boston so he could comment on it.  Roger was admitted to the hospital within a day or so of when I called.  He passed away just a few months later.

 

            Then I put together big plans.  I planned a trip back to Pittsburgh, but this time I was to give my talk to some trumpet students at CMU.  Neal Berntsen (Pittsburgh Symphony) teaches a class that he thought might benefit from my talk.  I went to CMU on September 18, 2007.

 

Figure A6: Left to Right.

Front: Andrew Harrison, Julian Evans, Marcello Braunstein.

Second: Chad Winkler, Jon Zellhart, Mathew Pienkowski, Robert Kircher, Rachel Claire, Andrew Gushiken

Third: Neal Berntsen, Tilden Olsen, Chris Rose, Jacob Malec
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

            Chad, Jon and Tilden might be recognized from the stage of Heinz Hall the previous November.  Here’s an interesting observation about these trumpet students.  They were very polite and attentive.  If talk about bore sizes, brass alloys, etc. bored them, they didn’t say so.  After my presentation, many of them went about their business of playing, which I guess is what they do.  I can tell you this.  There is some power in that group.  There’s paint peeled off the walls in that room.  I think Matthew is responsible for at least some of that.

 

            Probably because of George and Neal’s influence, these folks really wanted to know about vintage Bach trumpets.  One or two wanted to know where they could find one.  I wish I knew, but I probably wouldn’t have told them anyway.

 

            Well, by now I had given this talk several times, so I figured it was about time the people in Elkhart saw it.  After all, I needed their permission to use some of the material, even if it was after the fact.  I arrived at the Bach plant the next afternoon, September 19, 2007.

 

Figure A7: Left to Right: Tedd Waggoner, Director of Bach Operations; Jeff Christiana, Director of Marketing for Trumpet and Trombone; Rich Breske, Director of Communications
(Click the Image to View Full Size in a New Window)

 

            This picture was taken in a conference room at the new Bach plant.  I’ve been going to the Bach plant for some years, sometimes more than once a year.  Tedd Waggoner is my sponsor.  Tedd is the person responsible for preserving Bach’s data, and my access to it is through him.  Now, Tedd and I are friends, but it also means that he controls the material I can release.   I try not to get aggravated when he thinks something should be kept close to home, but I don’t think I do a good job of keeping my agitation to myself.

 

            Tedd runs the Bach plant now, and I almost didn’t recognize it.  That’s what I mean when I say the new Bach plant.  Tedd was put in the unenviable position of Bach plant manager during the now rather famous plant strike.  He got the place cleaned up such that it looks entirely different now.  And production is high again.  To make my point about it being a new plant, you can actually find things in there now.  I wonder what the plant floor in Mt Vernon looked like?

 

            Tedd used to work in the corporate headquarters.  His replacement there is Jeff Christiana.  Jeff was a classmate at Indiana University with Bill Seigfried (see picture with Gil Mitchell).  From these two—Bill and Jeff— I began to get the idea that Indiana trumpet players are everywhere.

 

            Rich is an important guy.  Among lots of other things, he owns Conn-Selmer’s Web site where this article is posted.  Rich and his people are very helpful.

 

            One thing interested me the day I visited there.  The hallway behind these guys runs up and down the length of the Bach plant.  If you play a trumpet in there after the workers have gone home, it sort of sounds like Heinz Hall.  Perhaps that’s an exaggeration that Mr. Heinz would take exception to, but the acoustics are pretty good.  Everybody got a chance to try Mager’s trumpet in the hallway as well as my resurrection Chicago C.  Mager would have been pleased with the way his trumpet sounded when Jeff played it.  On the other hand, my resurrection Chicago C didn’t fare all that well, but at least I know why.  I wish I’d had one of those late New Yorks like George Vosburgh’s with me.

 

            In all of this, I didn’t get any major complaints about what I was saying.  I realized that I would have to spend a lot more time if I were to try and clarify the picture any further.  I also know that some people might find my view of the situation limited, but I think the picture is clear enough.  Bach simply worked too early on an impossible task, i.e., creating a C trumpet that would generate its own market ahead of the orchestral community’s readiness to use such instruments.  His efforts were not wasted, however.  In fact, as I noted in the main part of the article, they provided the best of all lessons, i.e.; they told him what not to do as he moved forward.  When the time came (after World War Two), he was ready.

 

 

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