Maurice André 1984 (click to enlarge)

The world famous classical trumpeter Maurice André has died. He would have been 79 on May 21.

He worked in the mines of southern France in his teenage years. His father encouraged him to learn the trumpet. He entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 18. In the early 50s, he launched his successful solo career concentrating on baroque repertoire. André went on to make hundreds of recordings before his retirement in 2004.

Most often he played a piccolo trumpet. He collaborated with Selmer to create his now famous 4 valve instrument. As an aside for non trumpet players, the piccolo trumpet does not automatically pop out those high notes. It is a tiny bit easier than on a C or Bb trumpet, but the piccolo has its own problems. Intonation problems due to the short length of tubing is one of the biggest problems (the 4th valve helps).

The second Brandenburg is a marathon. I was exhausted when I played this in my late twenties. There is no way I could do it now. Note the grey hair on the maestro in this video.

Here he is with Dizzy. He doesn’t improvise, but he holds his own.