O.J.'s Trumpet Page Artists and personalities

Walter Holy

The first great pioneer of the baroque trumpet in the 20thcentury.

Walter Holy
Holy playing on his coiled "Reiche trumpet".

Walter Holy (1921 - 2006) played the trumpet in the symphony orchestras of Herford (l945), Bielefeld (1945-50), Frankfurt (1950-51), and Hanover (1951-56). In 1956 he joined the Cologne RO, and in 1968 was appointed as trumpet teacher at the Staatliche Folkwang Hochschule, Essen.

Holy was the first trumpeter in the 20th century to play successfully on valveless Baroque trumpets. From 1960, as principal trumpet of the Cappella Coloniensis, he made recordings and demonstrated Baroque instruments in travels throughout the world.

On January 7, 1996 he was awarded the Johann Ernst Altenburg Award by ITG in recognition of his successful pioneering efforts with the Baroque trumpet.

The coiled trumpet
Based on the Hausmann painting of Gottfried Reiche a trumpet in F (today this equals a tuning of E) was built. To help with intonation problems, an instrument maker, Otto Steinkopf, who had been reconstructing woodwind instrument for Moeck, Celle, suggested putting in tone holes. In addition to correcting intonation it also was aiding the accuracy. 3 tone holes were made. On the photo of  Holy (see above), he is coverering the holes with 3 fingers of his right hand. It was a student and trumpet colleague of Holy, Helmut Finke, who made the trumpet in 1959. With this trumpet, Holy recorded the Second Brandenburg Concerto with Harnoncourt in 1964 (see picture below).

Recording of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 2
Recording of Brandenburg #2, 1964
April 1964, Palais Schönburg, recording of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 2,
Holy 4th from left.

The tempo in the recording from 1964 is very slow when compared to more recent recordings (listen to the sound clips - see below). Part of this was due to technical problems the woodwinds had. Holy plays very softly and in a more chamber-music spirit than for instance Adolf Scherbaum did at the same time (with a valve piccolo trumpet). Scherbaum's version sounds more like a trumpet concerto.

Sound sample (MP3):

Said about Walter Holy:

John Thiessen (in an interview):
Who were some of the pioneers in reviving the Baroque trumpet in the 20th century?
Walter Holy was probably the first serious pioneer. His recordings of Bach cantatas with Concentus Musicus are available. 

Michael Laird (when Holy got the Johann Ernst Altenburg Awards):
I first heard him performing the J.S. Bach Magnificat in Wuppertal in 1963. He was playing the coiled Finke trumpet and I was so impressed with the beauty of his playing that I bought the same instruments and took lessons from the man himself. He inspired me with the beauty of playing and his enthusiasm for the instrument and the music.

o.j. 2004    

Thanks to Verena Barth for information and photo of the recording session. She met Walter Holy in April 2004 in his home.
Thanks to Jerome Callet for the first copy of the photo of Holy with his coiled trumpet.
Thanks to Professor Wolfgang Meyer and Ingus Schmidt for a better image of the photo.
Thanks to Edward H. Tarr and Neville Young for correction to the text.

March 2006:
Walter Holy, the pioneer of the Baroque trumpet, died quietly on March 7, 2006, in Cologne. He was 84.
Obituary by Edward H. Tarr on the ITG website