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Reviews

Reviews

INDEX TO REVIEWS

Arban Complete Method for Tuba

Arban Complete Method for Trombone

Arban Complete Method for Trumpet

Collinet 18 Preludes for Tuba

Concone Complete Solfeggi for Tuba

Grigoriev Etudes for Tuba

High Register for Tuba

Loud Playing for Tuba

Panofka 24 Vocalises for Tuba

Ten Studies for Low and High Tuba

The One Hundred Essential Works for the Symphonic Tubist

The One Hundred Essential Works for the Symphonic Tenor Trombonist

Concone Complete Solfeggi

Reviewed by
Mark Nelson
I.T.E.A. Journal, Winter, 2000

Wesley Jacobs has edited another winner in his growing collection of studies and methods designed for the tuba. This edition contains the complete solfeggi etudes of Concone optimized for the tuba through tasteful editing and key transpositions. This complete edition includes the “Thirty Daily Exercises,” “Fifty Lessons,” Twenty-Five Lessons,” “Fifteen Vocalises,” and the “Forty Lessons.”

Many of these exercises are very short and in some cases are abbreviated as to continuing with a similar pattern without actually writing out the notes. The lessons and vocalises are the true strength of the book as they are written in similar styles to the Bordogni etudes but generally shorter and not filled with as many grace notes, gruppetti, and other ornaments. They also lie better in the lower range of the tuba without being so low as to be unclear. The basic tessitura of these etudes is within the bass clef staff and down to a comfortable G below the staff. The ranges are perfect for the BBb and CC tuba in the “cash register” of the instrument and are not so technically challenging that many high school students as well as undergraduate college students would find them useful and engaging.

There are a couple of minor problems with page turns with the longer etudes that are no worse than any other etude book. Virtually all the etudes are on a single page and spaced appropriately. Of particular interest is that the editor purposefully left out all dynamic indications to help the student interpret the music without too many editorial considerations. As well, the editor suggests each etude be played on a high and low tuba to facilitate performing comfortably in the lower register with a high tuba. I concur that is a great way to become comfortable playing in the lower register of an F tuba, for example.

These etudes are sure to be of interest to many teachers and their students. They also are good examples of the legato playing style that are not as difficult to learn as some of the other repertoire currently available. Use it in conjunction with the Arban Complete Method for Tuba reviewed elsewhere and the combination of technical and lyrical styles go far to develop the complete musician. BACK



Arban Complete Method for Tuba

Reviewed by
Mark Nelson
I.T.E.A. Journal, Winter, 2000

Back in 1996, Encore Music Publishers heralded the launching of a complete Arban method specifically transcribed and edited for the tuba. At the time of the release it received much praise for the completeness and thoroughness of the edition and for the updated pedagogical essays reflecting current tuba practices. It also received its share of minor complaints primarily over note mistakes and poorly conceived page turns. This new second edition corrects those oversights. It continues to be written for the CC tuba fingerings although the music can obviously be played on any tuba. The complete method in this version also has some interesting surprises that greatly contribute to a more thoughtful edition. The primary complaints of the first edition centered around poorly conceived page turns. For those of us who literally grew up on the Thompson/Mantia trombone edition published by Carl Fischer in the 1930s, having to turn a page for such basic work as intervals studies, arpeggios, and gruppetto work seemed a bit much to take for a $50 price tag. The second edition eliminated virtually all of the awkward page turns of the first edition. One exception is the last song, God Save the Queen, of the 150 songs which has an awkward page turn not present in the first edition (and was titled America in the first edition!)

Through creative uses of font size and selective compression of music and text, the second edition was also slimmed down from 396 pages to its current 334 pages without eliminating one measure of music. Secondly, there were some note errors (as there are in the trombone edition) which have now been addressed and corrected. Thirdly, the first edition Characteristic Studies are considered by many to be over-edited with rests for breathing eliminating notes from the original studies. The original notes have been restored in the second edition. Finally, the key and range choices of the duet section in the first edition seemed a bit “muddy” as these choices reflected more of an accurate transcription rather than the need to make the duets sound playable. New key choices of mostly a fourth or fifth above the first edition key signatures have greatly enhanced the playability of the duets and challenge the student and teacher with higher but not impossible tessitura. The addition of a standard fingering chart for both the BBb and CC tuba completes the second edition.

Jerry Young and Wesley Jacobs have listened well to concerns voiced over the first edition and have re-worked many key aspects of the Arban Complete Method for the Tuba to make this second edition a true masterpiece that is sure to stand the test of time. The price is still the same after nearly five years on the market! Save your first edition copies for posterity. They may be worth much on the E-bay auction site in a few years. BACK


Arban Complete Method for Trombone and Euphonium

Review
ITA Journal April, 2002 by Mark Hall

Joe Alessi, Brian Bowman and Encore Music Publishers have teamed up to present a modern, definitive, bass clef edition of this staple brass method, edited specifically for trombone and euphonium. The EMP edition is spiral bound, a big improvement on previous editions, and is handsomely and clearly engraved. It maintains the original format of musical elements, presenting them completely and in the same order Arban presented them; and it maintains the editorial tradition established in editions subsequent to the 1864 Paris original, that of employing modern virtuosi as commentator/editors.

American trombonists are probably most familiar with the 1936 Carl Fischer edition adapted by Charles Randall and Simone Mantia. Here, as in CF's 1982 trumpet edition annotated by Claude Gordon, we get discourse from modern masters on their use and interpretation of the exercises, discourse that modernizes and often supplants Arban's comments. Beginning with the preface and throughout the exercises, each make their own intriguing statements directed specifically to their respective instruments. The information ranges from anecdotes on their own practice as youngsters, to advice that reveals teaching philosophies, to step-by-step instructions on how to practice a particular exercise. Interestingly, they aren't necessarily in agreement on every point. Alessi tends to give detailed instructions on how to practice each section and skill while Bowman's comments are more general and brief. EMP includes "68 duets" and "the art of phrasing" sections, neither of which appears in the Randall/Mantia edition.

Drawbacks? There are some impossible page turns in the "Characteristic Studies," which invites a trip to the copy machine even though EMP expressly forbids such practice on their title page. One alternate position marking is misplaced, and some notes are a bit crowded together. Otherwise editing and presentation are first-rate. Although dated, Arban's commentary on his own Method is interesting and often profound, but EMP gives only one page: a paragraph on mouthpiece position and another on faults to be avoided. The rest must be sought in other editions.

While many fine brass methods have come forth in the last 150 years, none seem to have replaced Arban's Method in its role as the preeminent, biblical, method of methods. The real value in EMP's edition comes not so much from the exercises themselves, but from Bowman's and Alessi's teaching. If you subscribe to their ideas you will find this volume a valuable teaching tool; it is certainly destined to become a historically significant addition to the long linage of Arban's Method editions. BACK


Arban Complete Method for Trombone and Euphonium

Review
ITEA Journal April, 2001 by Sharon Huff

After Encore Music Publishers and Wesley Jacobs produced an Arban Complete Method in 1996 which was edited and transcribed specifically for tuba, euphoniumists and trombonists have awaited an updated and corrected edition of their own. Through the collaboration of Jose Alessi and Brian Bowman, such an edition has now been published. Though there are many desirable features contained in the Alessi/Bowman edition, the most obvious improvement is the spiral bound structure of the book, finally putting to rest the broken spines and loose pages of thoroughly practiced older versions. In addition, this publication restores the sections containing 150 Classic and Popular Melodies and 68 Duets found in the original trumpet edition makes this book the only complete Arban method transcribed for euphonium and trombone players. Furthermore, the section on scales has been expanded to include a larger number of key signatures.

Another drawback of the older Randall/Mantia Arban book for euphonium/trombone is the presence of quite a number of errors of various kinds. Alessi & Bowman have worked hard to correct these discrepancies. Although a few small errors are still present, this new edition is not only closer to being error-free, it is also much easier to read than previous publications. In particular, problems discerning ledger lines in the upper register have been eliminated with the dark, clear print of this book. Also, page turns have been much more thoughtfully placed; and, if a page turn is necessary, the spiral binding enables the performer to accomplish this task with only one hand, unlike the gymnastic adventure inherent with the older edition. Even if a performer was able to accomplish the awkward page turn, there was no guarantee that the page would stay turned, or even that the book would stay on the stand and not end up on the floor! Thankfully, this barrier has now been removed.

Additionally, mistakes found in the original trumpet book have been corrected, such as replacing the word Cadence with Cadenza. Moreover, the error in the symbol for a gruppetto, or turn, has, at last, been remedied. Pictured upside down in the trumpet book as well as in the euphonium/trombone book, this mistake surely must have bewildered more than a few students. Best of all, Alessi and Bowman have included their helpful hints at the beginning of each section, and these provide a wealth of excellent pedagogical material. From multiple tonguing syllables of tah kah tah kah, instead of tu ku tu ku and dah gah dah gah for faster tempi, to the suggestions of using the vowel shapes of oh, ah, and ee, the comments of Alessi and Bowman are colorful, informative, and descriptive. One rather serious problem did exist in this edition: pages 353-356 were partially missing, which includes portions of the Fantasie Brillante. Hopefully, this has been rectified or was merely a one-time fluke. Regardless, producing this edition of Arban's complete method was an exhaustive project of considerable merit. Although the $50 price is a bit daunting, this book does include an additional 133 pages from the previously available incomplete version. And, the editor's comments and corrections provide a definite advantage over the older version. Without a doubt, this publication offers more for the musician and will weather the wear and tear of years of practice much better than its predecessor. BACK


Arban Complete Method for Trombone and Euphonium

Review
Online Journal by John Seidel

I was introduced to Arban's Famous Method (Complete!) in junior high school by the late Raymond Shenk, Principal Trombone and President of the Ringgold Band in Reading, Pennsylvania and Second Trombone in the Reading Symphony Orchestra. As is, or was, the case with thousands of other young players, Arban was the core of my study. I remain grateful to Mr. Shenk for many things, but primarily for helping me build a base of technical skills at a young age that I can rely on to this day.

In my own teaching, I stress the importance of establishing that fundamental core of technique through daily routine practice in Arban's, combined with other technical etudes and studies. I have, of course, heard many fine teachers and players say "Oh, I never use Arban's--it's so unmusical." These statements, coming as they do from respected members of the profession, have certainly given me pause, but it seems to me that any of this stuff is as musical as you make it. Arban can be played musically, and by the same token Kopprasch, Tyrell, Slama, et al can be played quite un-musically. Obviously, Arban was not Schubert or Brahms (do compare, however, No.13 in Arban's Studies on the Slur with the opening of Brahms' Serenade No.2!), but many of the studies do have a readily identifiable phrase structure that lends itself to elementary study of form and how it relates to musical performance. Further, Arban contains those virtuoso theme and variations solos in the back of the book from which the highly regarded solos of Arthur Pryor, Gardell Simons and others are directly descended.

Obviously, I believe Arban's to be a valuable treasure, if not the crown jewel, in the literature of trombone pedagogy. Imagine, then, my delight in learning of a new, expanded edition of Arban with commentary by Brian Bowman and Joseph Alessi, two of the brightest stars in today's low brass world. As much as I liked the old Arban's, it was definitely in need of some work. The commentary by Simone Mantia and Charles Randall, while often amusing and actually not always that far off the mark, is obviously quite out of date. Carl Fischer, the publisher, did try to update the book somewhat by the addition of commentary by Alan Raph, however Raph's thoughts were merely added and did not supplant those of Mantia and Randall.

In this new edition, published by Encore Music, the comments of Messrs. Alessi and Bowman are presented unencumbered by pre-existing editorial material. Both of these gentlemen bring impeccable credentials to the task, and their comments provide wonderful insights into each of their individual approaches to musical and technical matters. While the book is worth the money for these alone, Encore has made a few other improvements as well. First of all, the format is very clean and readable. All of the well-known misprints and typographical errors of the Carl Fischer edition seem to have been corrected, and while there may be some new ones, I am not aware of them. Suggestions for alternate positions/fingerings have been left out completely which in my view, is an improvement. In the Fischer edition, alternate positions were suggested quite indiscriminately. It seems to me that the newer format allows for judicious recommendations for position/fingering choices by the instructor/coach while eliminating questionable recommendations or non-recommendations in places where an alternate position would be a logical choice.

Encore has included some materials which previously were available only in the trumpet book. These include the Duets (fun) The Art of Phrasing (short tunes for musical study), and additional theme and variation pieces at the back of the book. Best of all, the book itself is spiral-bound so as to lay flat on the music stand, a most welcome innovation!

Kudos to Encore Music Publishers, and to all those involved with this project. While the concepts and exercises remain essentially unchanged, this new edition is long overdue. Special recognition is due to Mr. Wesley Jacobs, Principal Tuba of the Detroit Symphony and, according to Brian Bowman, publisher of this volume. While the price is a little steep compared to the Carl Fischer edition (which will still do the job, of course), there are, in my view, some substantial improvements to format and readability, not to mention the commentary of Bowman and Alessi that combine to make it definitely worth the extra twelve or thirteen bucks. BACK

18 Preludes for Tuba by Collinet

Review
ITEA Journal, Spring, 2010
by Dr. Chris Combest, Southern IL. Univ.

Wesley Jacobs and Encore Music Publishing have brought us yet another wonderful addition to the etude book genre for tuba. Originally composed by 19th-century French composer Hubert Collinet, the 18 Preludes for tuba consist of several short musical challenges that allow the user to work on an array of technical and musical demands.

18 Preludes contains brief notes of advice on each prelude from Mr. Jacobs directed to the performer, giving them helpful hints as to successful navigation of each piece. Each of the preludes is very short, none are longer than 9 lines, but they are usually about half a page in length. He includes several suggested variations throughout the book to give an added dimension to the musical demands. Mr. Jacobs in many cases will often suggest specifically what instruments to use—F, E-flat, CC, BB-flat—depending on what each particular prelude requires. Through the entirety of the book though, he emphasizes the musical interpretation above all else. The presentation is very clean and of very high quality. Great care has been taken in regards to layout and page turns that will be greatly appreciated by many. Though short in length, this book is great in content. I would highly recommend giving it a look. BACK

Developing High Register for Tuba
by Wesley Jacobs

Review
ITEA Journal, Spring, 2010
by Dan Brown

This set of three exercise books was developed by Wesley Jacobs to help tubists of all experience levels with their high register playing. Volume 1 concentrates on building a strong foundation for a developing high register. This volume is written with BB-flat and CC tubas in mind. Volume 2 works on expanding the range further and can be used with BB-flat, CC, E-flat, and F tubas. Volume 3 is a collection of 11 solos with piano accompaniment arranged by Wesley Jacobs. These 11 solos are all written in the extreme high register, and this volume can be used to learn to play expressively in the extreme high register.

Volume 1 and Volume 2 both include the same set of detailed instructions at the beginning of the book including suggestions for practice scheduling, hard and easy day organization, and the overall structure of each volume. Volume 3 includes general performance suggestions for the solos. The exercises in Volume 1 range from BBB-flat to e1, Volume 2 ranges from DD-flat to a1, and Volume 3 ranges from E to a1.

The exercises contained in these volumes each have a set of instructions provided by Wesley Jacobs. These instructions are very detailed and provide exact recommendations for how each exercise can best be used in daily practice. Jacobs provides a wide variety of exercises in these volumes including mouthpiece buzzing exercises, arpeggio studies, lip slurs, and articulation studies. The goal of these books is self explanatory, but Jacobs’ approach is unique and utilizes plenty of low register playing mixed into the high register playing to help relax the embouchure.

All three volumes come highly recommended for tubists of all levels of skill and experience. Wesley Jacobs has given the tuba community a great resource drawn from his experiences as a professional tubist. After working out of these books while preparing for this review, I can say that I am only left wanting more advice and exercises from this tuba legend. BACK

Panofka 24 Vocalises
for Tuba

Review
ITEA Journal, Spring, 2010
by Michael Short, Drake Univ.

Anyone who has become familiar with Reginald Fink’s fine Studies in Legato is already familiar with the Vocalises of Heinrich Panofka (1807–1887). Panofka started his career as a violinist, and, after a time in Vienna, he went to Paris and studied singing with Bordogni, later founding an academy with him there. In London, he was known as a singing teacher and finished his career in Florence.

Anyone familiar with the Fink book already knows the utility of these exercises. If you do not know them, you should get acquainted with them. They are an excellent introduction to the more complicated Bordogni etudes. Some of the Panofka exercises are very simple indeed, the first few being entirely based on scalar motion. Something that had mystified me at first about these when I discovered them many years ago were the two bar rests—something that really makes no sense when you are the only instrument playing. Mr. Jacobs now provides what fills those gaps. He has arranged the accompaniments for all 24 vocalises. Their use is obvious. Most young students do not play often enough with the piano, and, when working on solo material, the most shocking moment often comes the first time the solo is put with the piano. This publication gives the student the opportunity to play first some simple then more challenging material with the piano, a great aid for working on musical conception, ensemble, and intonation.

These accompaniments are not complicated—quite a few of them are simple iterations of tonic and dominant chords, sometimes sustained chords, sometimes “boom-chick-chick,” but certainly of use to the teacher and student alike. The printing looks quite good (I think Encore’s printing is actually improving!), and there is only one annoying page turn in the tuba book that happens in the middle of a phrase. I’m glad to see the vocalises gathered all in one place and with accompaniment as an added bonus. BACK

Grigoriev, 50 Etudes
for Tuba

Review
ITEA Journal, Spring, 2010
by Steven Maxwell, KS. State Univ.

Studies by Boris Grigoriev are a staple in many tubists repertoire and a “must have” for every serious tuba student. They are great for every level of player from advanced high school to professional. While they are not exceedingly difficult, mature musicianship is needed to play these etudes successfully. For the advanced player, they make an excellent high horn etude book and can be quite difficult in the lower registers. The range is from EE to b although many of the etudes early in the book do not go above an f.

L. Keating Johnson and Wesley Jacobs put together this edition in a great fashion that is easy to read and follows a good guideline for students. Of particular interest, the studies they picked progress through every key and include at least one articulated etude and one lyrical etude. This is extremely handy when assigning work to students! The layout of this book is easy to read (there are no bad page turns), and the newly included directions for each etude are concise and give good suggestions. This book will now be the edition that I have my students order due to these great updates. BACK

Loud Playing for Tuba

Review
ITEA Journal, Spring, 2010
by Stephen Kunzer, Univ. of NV

Loud Playing is a great text highlighting something that tuba players do not always remember to practice, playing loudly. Just like articulations, lip slurs, multiple tonguing, and low register playing, loud playing is a skill that must be practiced and improved upon. This method book is divided into 9 practice skills including control at high volume levels, embouchure stabilization, strength and connection, daily loud practice, evenness of tone, endurance and loud playing, articulation and loud playing, loud-blowing and loud musical playing. It should be recommended to the individual purchasing this book that he or she reads the Foreword written by the author. Jacobs does a terrific job explaining to the player that even though the dynamics may be extreme, the music must be the focal point of everyone’s practice session. The player must be very conscious of the fatigue issues surrounding the practice session and is recommended to start off playing these daily exercises in short amounts of time and then gradually increase the duration of your workout. BACK

The One Hundred

Review
ITEA Journal, Spring, 2011
by Dr. Jerry Young, Univ. of WI., Eau Claire

The One Hundred by Wesley Jacobs. Encore Music Publishers, P.O. Box 212, Maple City, MI 49644-0212. www.encoremupub.com. ISMN M-800004-13-1. UPC: 9790800004131. 128 pages. Soft cover. $45.00.

 Wesley Jacobs is best known to readers of this publication as the principal tubist of the Detroit Symphony, a position he held for thirty-eight years prior to his retirement. His experience with the symphonic orchestral literature is vast. Additionally, numerous advanced students and young professionals (now seasoned professionals) studied with him and sought his valuable advice. His interest in education has produced numerous beneficial works for students and teachers, and this new text adds another important resource to his impressive bibliography.

 Study of the orchestral repertoire is essential for every serious student of the instrument. While there are now many excerpt books available, as well as important resources for obtaining complete parts for public domain works, there is a paucity of material that guides instruction and study in a methodical way, and none as comprehensive as this text.

 Based on his vast experience, Mr. Jacobs has selected what he deems to be the one hundred most important passages for tuba in the orchestral repertoire. His criteria for inclusion are not solely based on the appearance of passages in auditions. Some passages are simply important, problematic, or musically significant segments that are often passed over or ignored in most players’ study of the repertoire. For each composer he gives a very brief sketch of that person’s background and general comments and/or considerations about the music. He initially indicates whether the work is likely to appear in the audition repertoire, whether the musician should consider memorizing the passage, whether there are errors in the orchestra part (which, when present in the part, are corrected in this text), and a suggestion for what tuba works best in performance of the individual piece. The error correction feature alone is a very significant contribution to pedagogical repertoire! After this information comes specific information relative to how to properly perform/interpret the music in the context of the orchestra. This is the perfect textbook to use in any tuba studio curriculum providing ideas for thoughtful interaction between student and teacher, as well as giving built-in structure for week to week studio class work. Mr. Jacobs states clearly that the text is not intended to be a substitute for studying from the complete orchestral part. The text is strictly a resource for information and instruction.

 An especially valuable feature of this text is study guides for twenty-seven works that are copyright restricted and are thus not legally reproducible in print in a book such as this one. As students and teachers have access to those parts from other sources, they can use the valuable information provided here to enhance their study.

 As is true of all publications from Encore Music Publishers, this text is printed clearly, uses high quality stock for cover and text, and is wire bound. This volume should be in every serious student’s library and on the shelf of everyone who teaches the tuba. Jerry Young, The University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire  BACK

 

Ten Studies for Low and High Tuba

Review ITEA, Spring 2014

by Roy Couch, Bluffton University

 

It is commonly agreed that a principal goal for aspiring musicians is the development of an ability to convey characteristics such as phrasing, expression, contrasts, and musical communication. One of the great masters of lyrical, expressive writing was the Romantic Era composer Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). Though Brahms did not utilize the tuba much in his orchestral writing, tubists now have the unique opportunity to add study of Brahms-penned lyricism to their musical studies. Ten Studies for Low and High Tuba were originally written by Brahms for horn, but John Van Houten, a tuba instructor and freelance performer in California, has transcribed and edited them for tuba and we are fortunate that he has done so.


Of particular value is that Mr. Van Houten provides useful instructive text with each study, addressing the musical issues of each study and offering helpful tips on practice. Some of the studies are indicated as being for both low and high tuba, while some have been split into a low version and a high version. These studies are definitely for an advanced player. They cover a wide range of challenges including breathing, phrasing, range and rhythmic integrity.
Several of the low studies stay in the extremely low tessitura and the player must maintain musical consistency in this range. The high studies require the player to play with ease and musical expression despite the unique demands of the upper range. Other challenges that are presented include multiple tonguing, fluid execution of trills and extended breathing techniques. One study provides seven different articulation patterns to practice in both a low and high version.


My only complaint about the book is that there are some awkward page turns in the middle of a study. Otherwise it is well written and clearly printed. The added text is particularly helpful in realizing the full potential of these studies for the advanced tuba performer. I highly recommend adding the Ten Studies as a great opportunity to learn a lyrical, musical approach by studying one of the greats.

Range: BBB-flat to f¹
--Roy Couch, Bluffton University   BACK

 

 

Arban, Jean-Baptiste. Complete Method for Trumpet

Annotated and Edited by Alan Vizzutti and Wesley Jacobs. Maple City, Michigan: Encore Music Publishers, 2007. 408 Pages. ISMN M-800004-03-2 $56.95

by Frank Hosticka, Historic Brass Society

 

During the mid-nineteenth century the piston cornet as we now know it began to emerge from a tangle of various chromatic brass inventions. It survived among creatures such as the cornopeans, saxhorns, keys, rotors, levers, valves (Stoetzel, Perrinet et al.), and an array of many advancements, failures, dead ends, and experiments.  As evolution sorted through this primordial stew, an intelligent designer also emerged (my apologies Niles Eldridge!) to help guide the process to success.

 

 It is not a coincidence that the life of Joseph Jean Baptist Laurent Arban (1825-1889) spans this same period. His life’s work, contributions, interest in and influence upon this new instrument were singularly critical to the emergence, acceptance, and success of this addition to the brass family. Arban was a performer, teacher, innovator, and tireless advocate for the cornet. From his birth in 1825 to his appointment to the newly-created position of professor of cornet at the Paris Conservatory in 1857, he became a most remarkable and pivotal contributor to this large and rapid advance in the evolution of brass instruments. It is not generally known that he had even collaborated with other leading figures, including Adolph Sax and Antoine Courtois, among others, to engineer mechanical improvements on the instrument.

 

 For most of his professional life he remained an active performer. As an accomplished and successful soloist Arban constantly demonstrated and championed the cornet’s remarkable new capabilities. His efforts almost singlehandedly helped to cement the instrument in Western music, as he persuaded composers and performers alike to use this labrosone to great success . Within a relatively short period of time the cornet began appearing in many different musical venues. Music of high and low art, popular, civic, military, opera, symphony, sacred, folk, chamber, and solo virtuosic: there seemed to be no area of music in which this newcomer failed to succeed. 

 

 Jean Baptist’s most lasting contribution however, has been his printed method of instruction, today known commonly and simply as the “Arbans”. This book is the “bible” for students and teachers alike, and today continues to remain the touchstone for all those who aspire to play valved brass instruments. His earliest teaching at the Conservatoire was of necessity accomplished by writing out his own exercises for his pupils. While there are some similar exercises in the Methode pour la Trompette ,the grand method of 1857 of his own teacher publications of his own teacher Dauverne, the Arban’s method generally extends the technical aspects of the cornet beyond that called for by Dauverne. Nevertheless, it was from these handwritten melodies, etudes, morceau, drills, studies and exercises that his printed method emerged. First published in Paris in 1864, the book was titled La Grande Methode complete de cornet a piston et de saxhorn par Arban.

 

 Since that time, a multitude of editions and “enhancements” have appeared. There have been contractions, expansions, truncations, compilations, extractions, extensions, additions and all manner of “improvements” inflicted upon the maestro’s noble effort. The latest entry into this fray is now available from Encore Editions. Titled Complete Method for Trumpet, it is edited by Allen Vizzutti and Wesley Jacobs.

 

 This reworking is touted by the publisher as the “Greatest Arban’s of all time,” “sets a new standard,” and that “Vizzuti offers a 21st century perspective.“ I have examined these claims and compared this newest version with several previous editions. These are Rollinson, (Pepper), Leduc (three volumes), Herbert Clarke (Cundy Betony), and Goldman (Carl Fischer). For purposes of this review I will make comparisons only with the Carl Fischer/Goldman version, (CF/G) with which most players today are familiar.

 

 When attempting to make corrections and re-typeset such a large amount of material, one must assume that the challenge is daunting. I can only assume that corrections have indeed been made, but with all that is involved, this is a bit like squeezing a balloon. New mistakes appear with alarming regularity. As an example, compare Selection 109, from the “Art of Phrasing,” Daughter of the Regiment (m.8). In the Encore Edition, the melodic interval of a sixth has mysteriously become an octave. Such small errata are present and after months of study more will likely arise. Oddly, all the breath/phrasing marks as included in CF/.G, have been removed. It may be that the original source material for these songs is entirely different, as this section seems to have a significant number of small discrepancies from the CF/G edition. Over-all, the frequency and number of mistakes found after some initial period of time playing this new edition are unfortunate and do much to detract from the worthiness of this effort.

 

 All the Arban text which preface and explain the different areas of study remain as in CF/G. Arban’s biographical sketch and his own preface have disappeared, replaced by a brief monograph entitled “My Musical Life and Recollections,” by Jules Riviere c. 1893.

 

         Additionally, the previous English translations from the original French have been updated. A more fluid modern English is often used to replace the somewhat archaic 19th-century English of CF/G. As one small example shows, “The staccato consists in detaching a succession of notes with regularity….” becomes “The staccato effect consists of playing detached and evenly…” One would assume these modernizations are the work of Wesley Jacobs, for whom no biographical information or credits are given.

 

 Co-editor Allan Vizzuti, on the other hand, has added considerable text of his own, which is credited at the end of each entry in order that the reader will know that he, and not Arban, is the author. His point of view is indeed an update; in some ways a more contemporary approach- regarding “attacks”, breathing, buzzing (he is against it for beginners), embouchure, and general approach to practicing of the material.

 

 While Vizzuti seldom if ever contradicts Arban’s advice, he does attempt to put those original admonishments within the context of nineteenth-century France. His text tends to give gentle, helpful, and generally sound advice which augments the original in a very positive and constructive way. The remarks he adds to each of the Fourteen Characteristic Studies, in particular, are well written and help the student define and meet the musical challenges, as opposed to just “plowing” through.

 

 The printed music content is identical to the CF/G published method. Vizzuti’s only addition is an original “morceau”, titled Carnival of Venus, as the final piece in the collections of solos we know as the “Celebrated Fantasies and Airs Varies.” This solo with variations follows the same forms as the original twelve by Arban.

 

 Now however, we are presented with very Vizzutti-like 21st-century challenges, such as three octave arpeggiation, enormous wide interval skips, upper register multiple tonguing, and generally increased endurance demands. Alas, no text is added for his solo. One only wishes he would tell us how to play all those challenges with the same ease he does.

 

 A very striking and welcome upgrade is the fresh new typeset of the music notation. Indeed, this is perhaps the most significant improvement on any previous editions. On clean bright white background, the notation is fresh, new, sharp and clean. The effect is that the notes seem larger, when in fact they sometimes are not. The welcome overall result is a less cramped and crowded page. As is well known, the very appearance of printed music has a profound influence on the approach and execution. Most agreeably, another added benefit of this new edition is a large durable ring spiral binding (metal not plastic). This upgrade will be most welcome on every music stand.

 

 The price is not unreasonable, given the latest “platinum” editions of the same old plates and “smudgy” printing at $60 plus. This Encore publication is sold for $56.95 retail. I know that it has been a long time since I paid $5 for my first Arban; however that book stays with me today, if somewhat worse for wear. This Arban could last as long, if not longer and probably in better shape.

 

 In this reviewer’s opinion the over-all impression of this “new” Arban is favorable. As for the publisher’s rather hyperbolic claims of bringing Arban into the twenty-first century, my view is- maybe. The instrument is a nineteenth century tool, and while the demands on modern players seem ever more challenging, the basic requirements for good execution remain as they always were. As a performer one must conquer the same technical difficulties and musical challenges which confront us all and have continued to exist prior to and following Arban’s life and works. The need for basic work, study, and technique remain, and Arban will never be out of date for anybody who wishes to play a valve instrument. This book however, is an improvement of our “sacred” text, if only for its increased clarity, physical layout, and emphasis on Arban’s thorough approach, which is a confirmation of Oscar Levant’s famous quip, ”…musical secrets that have been known for hundreds of years.” BACK

 

The One Hundred Essential Works for Symphonic Tenor Trombonist

Review
ITA Journal, Winter, 2015
Dr. Karl Hinterbichler, University of New Mexico

Megumi Kanda.The One Hundred, Essential works for the symphonic tenor trombonist. Encore Music Publishers, P.O. Box 212, Maple City, MI 49644-0212. www.encoremupub.com. 183 pages. Spiral bound, soft cover. $45.00

 

The compiler of this book of excerpts is Megumi Kanda, noted soloist and principal trombone of the Milwaukee Symphony since 2002. Forty composers are represented with one hundred works. Included are a glossary of German musical terms, pictures/photos and biographical information on the composers and short background information about each work. Brief pedagogical comments are supplied by Megumi Kanda for each excerpt, and corrections are noted if the original published part contains errors. Excerpts that may appear on auditions are marked and memorization is recommended for the most famous excerpts.

There are numerous resources available today for the aspiring orchestral tenor trombonist, including recordings, excerpt collections, etudes based on excerpts, on-line recordings/with music, ITA Journal articles, websites and public domain individual parts. This book fills in information not readily available anywhere else, including the correction of errors in some of the printed parts and the inclusion of some important trombone heavy works that may be difficult to obtain due to various restrictions, including Aaron Copland – Symphony No. 3, Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphony No. 15, Bela Bartok – Miraculous Mandarin, and Benjamin Britten – Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes.

Choice of excerpts is generally excellent and quite comprehensive. The major audition list tunes are all present. There are a few omissions with challenging trombone parts that are usually not called for at auditions: Carl Nielsen - Symphony No. 4 (Symphony No. 2 is included), Ferde Grofe – Cloudburst from the Grand Canyon Suite (On the Trail is included), Petrushka and Rite of Spring – Igor Stravinsky (Firebird, L’Histoire, Pulcinella and Symphony of Psalms are included), Benjamin Britten – Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (as noted above his Four Sea Interludes are included) and a work frequently programmed in the US, the Ives/Schumann – Variations on America.

The physical attributes of this book are first class all around: clear layout, excellent printing, quality stock and wire bound for ease of use. Its contents are an excellent adjunct, filling in gaps in the existing material on the study of orchestral excerpts. Bravo to the publisher Wesley Jacobs. If not already in the works, would like to encourage him to do a similar volume for bass trombone.

Dr. Karl Hinterbichler, University of New Mexico

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