Concert for trumpet and orchestra


Written in 1948 in response to an order from the CNSM of Paris, this concert was then declared “unplayable”.

The composer resolved to prove the contrary with a concert performed on the 13th of November 1948 by the Orchestra of Radio-Hilversum (directed by Albert Van Raalte) with the Dutch trumpeter Jas (Jason) Doets.

The “challenge” was first taken up in Paris, France on the 7th of April 1949 by Ludovic Vaillant, playing with the Orchestre National which was directed by the composer himself.

Next it was Raymond Tournesac who played it under the direction of Tomasi on the 28th of July 1949 in Vichy. An interview provided the occasion for the composer to present his work:

“If the style of my Concert for Trumpet is classic by its three movements, the content is not. There is neither subject nor central theme.  It is pure music.  I tried to make a synthesis of all the expressive and technical possibilities of the trumpet, from Bach up to the present including Jazz.  Up until this time the use of the trumpet was relatively unrefined.  It was considered as a secondary instrument while the interest here is in discovering all of its expressive resources.  Its use has indeed been expanded by our modern composers.  I don’t pretend to be a precursor; I find myself in the middle of a period where one is demanding more from the so called minor elements of the orchestra and hope to have made a useful contribution to this captivating research.”  (Journal de Vichy”, 28-07-1949)

Then it was Maurice André who integrated it into his repertoire and a first record was made of the concert played by the Orchestra of Radio-Luxembourg and directed by Louis de Froment (33t.”Erato” 3227) in 1963.  The same prestigious soloist interpreted the work in a ballet version choreographed by Joseph Lazzini at the Opéra de Marseille on the 10th, 16th and 18th of March 1963.

Some comments by Henri Tomasi on the work follow:

“The first movement (Allegro and cadence) begins by a trumpet solo; a brief introduction to the 1st theme and of a 2nd that is soft and melancholic.  The development of these two themes ends in a dangerous cadence.  The second movement (Nocturne) develops an extensive melody with chromatic progressions and offers the soloist brilliant variations around the main theme.  The Finale, built upon the 2nd theme takes on the form of a very lively rondo that brings in all the instruments of the orchestra.”

The Concert for Trumpet became a 20th century international trumpet classic and was interpreted by a multitude of other excellent musicians including Pierre Thibaud, André Bernard, Guy Touvron, Eric Aubier, Wynton Marsalis, Sergeï Nakariakov, Geoffrey Payne, Haruto Yoshida, William Forman, John Holt, George Vosburhg, Gabriele Cassone, Mark Inouyé, David Bilger (Carnegie Hall 1998), Ole Edvard Antonsen, Giuliano Sommerhalder, Andrea Lucchi, Wolfgang Bauer, Marc Bauer, Alison Balsom, Lyn Schoch, Tibor Kerekes, Sergiu Carstea, Clément Saulnier, David Guerrier and Romain Leleu (both of them “Victoires de la Musique” ), Alexandre Baty and Hakan Hardenberger

The warm, playful and joyous character of this work reflects one of the most happy and favourable periods of Tomasi’s life, a post War time when he had regained faith in life and vigor and when his carrier became widely renowned in Europe:  Conductor at the Concergebouw, creation of his operas in Munich, Bruxelles, Paris, etc… He composed the Concerto for Trumpet while he was the 1st conductor at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo.