J. B. Arban
Laurent Arban was born in
Lyon, France on February 28, 1825.
He died in Paris, France, on April 8, 1889.
Today he is
known for his
and cornet method book. This book is often refered to as "the
some even call it the "trumpet
about J. B. Arban:
There are few
good sources about Arban available. Jean Pierre Mathez
wrote a biography. His book
is currently only in French.
The best other
source, in my opinion, is an
article by Dr. Daniel Kelly, "The Competition Solos of J. B. Arban" (ITG
March 2006 - online here in PDF-format
). Reproduced in this format with the permission of the International
Trumpet Guild. For more information about ITG, visit the organization's
web site: www.trumpetguild.org
A larger part of
the text below is quoted from this excellent
Little is known
of Arban prior to his acceptance into Professor Francois
trumpet class at the Paris
Conservatoire on September 29, 1841, at the age of sixteen.
months he would be allowed to leave the Conservatoire for a
journey of six months. The following year Arban would again leave the
Conservatoire for professional engagements in London, this time for
In 1844 he again
asked for a leave to go to London, a three-month
engagement that caused him to miss the preliminary round of the concours. Dauverne allowed
into the concours that year.
Arban won the deuxieme
(second prize) on December 9, 1844.
year he again asked for and was granted a leave to travel
to London, winning the premier
upon his return.
For the next ten
years (1845 - 1855) Arban's career included service in
the military and various concert engagements. It is not clear when he
began playing the cornet, but by early 1846 his name was already
appearing in conjunction with the instrument in concert reviews that
extolled his beautiful lyricism and brilliant multiple-tonguing.
In 1848 he was
promoting the new "compensator" cornet of Adolphe
Sax. Arban and Sax would maintain a long working relationship
that would later result in his Cornet-Arban.
It was also during this time that he began conducting salon and opera
orchestras and composed various pieces for the cornet based on operatic
and popular themes.
on tour / in Russia:
From the summer
of 1874 to the autumn of 1880 (between his first and
second tenure at the Paris Conservatory) he was travelling, giving
concerts and conducting. Little is known about Arban's travels.
Arban had four
long concert tours in Russia (the summers of 1873 -
1876). In St. Petersburg a special building was constructed for him. It
was situated in a garden called "Garden of the Arban Concerts". It is
said that Arban wanted to put a stop to the dominance of the German
music and musicians and to introduce French music and musicians in
Russia. But in spite of this, one of his closest friendship was with
the German cornetist Wilhelm Wurm (1826 - 1904). Arban dedicated one of
his best pieces, "Caprice et Variations" to Wurm: A
mon excellent ami et celebre collegue W.
more, see Tarr: East
, page 87-89 and page 127-128). In the summer of
1876, Arban and his orchestra performed in Pavlovsk. He had success by
composing and performing a march called Chernyaev
dedicated to a
On May 25, 1857,
Arban was named Professor of Saxhorn at the Ecole
His grand method
was written while he was the professor
there (in 1864).
In 1868 Arban was still teaching saxhorn at
the Ecole Militaire. He was at
the height of his fame when he petitioned the Conservatoire to establish a cornet
cornet was already
recognized as a
versatile solo instrument and quite popular
with audiences. Consequently, there was no lack of music that included it either as a solo
instrument. It was most often used as a secondary instrument by trumpeters,
French horn players.
both to formalize the study of the
cornet and to prevent the disappearance of the noble trumpet,
and popularity was waning. In November 1868 Arban wrote in a letter to
the Director of the Conservatoire, Daniel Auber:
"It is a
fact that today hardly anybody
plays the trumpet any more and that the provincial theaters — and even
those in Paris — no longer have artists playing this instrument... it
is generally known that one can be an excellent trumpeter and yet
starve to death, whilst everybody can live comfortably by playing the
Arban points out in this letter that the
cornet is being pressed into service in virtually every genre as a
melody instrument and often even as a replacement for the trumpet in
older works. It was Arban's belief that a combined class would require
students to excel on both instruments and act as "an effective remedy
in order to prevent the complete disappearance of this instrument
In January 1869, the cornet class was
installed at the Conservatoire, but not quite as Arban had intended.
Instead of combining the trumpet and cornet classes, Auber decided to
keep the classes separate. He named Arban the professor of the new
cornet class and a former classmate of Arban's, Jules Cercilier, as the
new professor of the trumpet class, replacing their former teacher
Dauverne, who had already decided to retire later that year.
For the next four years (1869 — 1873),
Arban tried to balance his duties at the Conservatoire with his
performing and conducting careers. On at least three occasions he was
granted leaves of absence to conduct in St. Petersburg and Povlovsk.
Each time, his request was received with increasing acrimony from the
Director and government officials, who finally in May 1873 warned Arban
that he was not to be granted any more leaves.
April 1874 Arban was
again invited to conduct in St. Petersburg and requested another leave,
which was denied. Arban reluctantly resigned his post at the
late 1880 Arban was
reinstated and began his second tenure at the Conservatoire, a period
in which he devoted himself to his teaching and the improvement of the
Method for the Cornet:
In french it was called
La grande méthode complète de cornet à
et de saxhorn par Arban
It was first published in Paris during the year of 1864.
Text from the book:
(from the Cundy-Bettoney Co.)
Other resources from
on instrument development:
Arban was a
significant innovator for
the instrument. In 1846, he worked for Adolphe Sax, to whom he gave
production of his Saxhorns. Arban demonstrated the "cornet
compensateur" of Adolph Sax in
1848, as well. While a cornet
the Paris Conservatory in 1880, Arban developed a new model cornet and
patented in 1883 as the "cornet
year after its
patent, he announced that it could be legally copied by anyone, and
Courtois did build the "cornet
at a later date and a mouthpiece
named after him as well, the "embouchure
Courtois-Arban cornet had an
interesting and unique appearance. The
leadpipe curved, as usual, back to the player before entering the third
valve casing, but made an additional curve through the loop of the
third valve slide before entering the third valve. In
tried to make his "nouveau
cornet-Arban" required at the
but it was rejected.
Between the years
of 1883 and 1888, Arban experimented with
construction of the cornet, and after 1885, Arban collaborated with L.
civil engineer, in making brass instruments. They patented an "Arban-Bouvet
cornet" in 1885 and had two improved patents for the same
instrument in 1888, one registered in Great Britain and one in
France. The "Arban & Bouvet"
company was officially
established in 1889 (and apparently for one year only) so they could
instruments at the Paris Exposition of the same year. François
firm produced their instruments. Millereau was active in Paris from
1931, when H. Selmer bought out the ailing company, using Millereau’s
instruments until c1938.
Sudre, an apprentice working for E. Daniel’s firm in
built a compensating valve for brass instruments in 1884, the
More info here.
a newspaper from Finnland, Helsinki's
Hufvudstadsbladet, (no. 96, from 11.4.1890, page 2), Arbans
recording is mentioned:
Among the phonograms a
particular one must
be mentioned: solo on cornet a piston, played by the famous French
virtuoso monsieur Arban called “Fanfare d’Edison;”
Arban apparently made a
phonograph-cylinder recording for
the Edison Co. shortly before his death. Perhaps some day the record(s)
will turn up?
Did Arban have
This is of
course a question that can never be answered, so
this is only a speculation. Trumpeter and teacher, David
Hickman, gave his opinion on this question in ITG Journal, (September,
1987, page 31). Here is part of what he said:
today’s professional standards, I don’t think that Arban had what could
be called “great” chops. He was an important pioneer of the cornet and
a prominent solo artist…. In examining Arban’s method and solos,
however, we find high C the highest note written…. He has few
pedagogical insights into the actual techniques of playing and he gives
little advice, or even emphasis, on embouchure development.
Arbans recording(s) turn up,
we will not know how he would
have compared to later cornetists like Jules Levy, Bohumir Kryl,
Herbert L. Clarke
and George Swift.
What we can see in methods by some of these later
a range extending that of Arban. Levy’s book from 1895 goes to G above
and uses pedal tones (Exercise 302). Clarke gives one example of a 3
octave chromatic scale up to high G,
used play 4 times in a row
(page 53 in Elementary
the same page, he also shows the extended range of the
cornet up to double high C.
Edward H. Tarr does not
share Hickman's view. He sent me this comment in an email:
would beg to differ with Dave Hickman's assessment of Arban as a
teacher; after all, several famous musicians emanated from his class,
and as far as the technical difficulty and range of his solos are
concerned, certainly they represented the pinnacle of the art at the
time. It gives a false picture if one tries to look back at his
achievement from a modern point of view, when "double high C" is a
pitch achieved by relatively many.
Other infomation/sources about J. B. Arban:
On this site:
o.j.2000 - 2008