Date: Wed, 25 Mar 98 11:43:38 -0000
From: <>
Subject: Re: Abblasen

The Abblasen is printed in the book - C.S. Terry (1932,1958) "Bach's  Orchestra", Oxford University Press - and also included are Mr Blandford's measurements that conclude the instrument is pitched in D with a C crook.

Ezra Adams wrote
>There's another theory that the horn he's holding was a gag and that the
>whole picture was a joke.

>Just remembering a class from long ago.....

I have also heard this, but it seems to be the reaction of people who have been preconditioned to expect Bach's Trumpeter to be holding a trumpet-looking trumpet.  I would imagine that 250 years hence there will be discussion as to whether a portrait of Wynton Marsalis holding an unusual Monette was intended as a joke! There is sufficient evidence to show that the instrument in the Reiche portrait was a recognised class of  trumpet, and that it had the same timbre as other trumpets (see Altenburg), but with a more convenient winding.  The amount of verifyable detail in the portrait supports the interpretation that what Haussman is portraying for posterity is an accurate picture of the man, his instrument, and the music he played on (and perhaps wrote for) the instrument.   Remember that this was a commission from the Liepzig City Council (i.e. motivated by civic pride rather than humour), and was reproduced in engravings and on Reiche's presentation Tankard.  We are dealing (obviously) with a period when the only possibility of accurately recording a musician was visually - this was, in my opinion, the purpose of the portrait, and Haussman has achieved it brilliantly.

David Jarratt-Knock wrote:
>As far as I know, there's no evidence to suggest that Reiche ever played a
>coiled trumpet of the kind depicted in Haussmann's portrait. What seems
>likely is that this instrument was chosen because it allowed a better
>composition for the painting, according to the rules of baroque
>portraiture, than a standard straight trumpet would have done.

What more evidence do you need? Both Occum's razor and the detail of the painting provide an overwhelming case for this instrument being Reiche's "instrument  of choice" at that time. Tarr (The Trumpet, pages 110 - 111) discusses these alternate theories, and concludes that, rather than there being no evidence to suggest that Reiche ever played a coiled trumpet, "it is at least tenable that Reiche.......played on a Baroque trumpet in the normal folded shape". It is likely that Reiche was apprenticed as both a court and a field trumpeter at the Weissenfels Court.  He would necessarily have played a Feld trompet, and indeed owned several.  His appointment as a Stadtpfeiffer in Leipzig may have conflicted with the Trumpet Guild's resstrictioons on the use of the Feldtrompet, and his use of a coiled trumpet may have been a way of getting around this problem.   It seems more likely that the coiled versioon made a better orchestral trumpet since hand-stopping could be used to correct out-of-tune notes in the harmonic series, though Reiche is holding the instrument in his right hand with the bell to the right, which seems to preclude hand-stopping.  Then again the coiling could have made it handy to access tone holes.........

>I was told
>once that in the inventory of Reiche's possessions after his death, were
>something like 20 "Feldtrompeten" (i.e. standard straight trumpets) but no

Arnold Shering has apparently published this list, which I have not seen. We cannot be sure that the coiled trumpet would not be described by the auditor as a "Feldtrompet" since it would have a similar range and playing style, in contrast to the "Zugtrompet", and "Old Trumpet recovered from the moat" which were also listed.  But remember the list was of instruments found in Reiche's Apartment after his death, and he died on the way back from the gig, and presumably had his main horn with him at the time.

>Are you serious? I didn't think there was any evidence that vent-holes were
>actually used in the baroque period. And I'd certainly be interested in any
>indication that Reiche is believed to have used them.

J E Altenburg reports "once seeing" a trumpet with a tone hole in Weimar (presumably between 1750 & 1780).  And he records the 1766 reports of a horn with tone holes in St Petersburg.  The publicity brochure issued in 1961 promoting the Finke instruments states that "The discovery of a hole the size of a pinfead in an old natural trumpet led Otto the secret of the Clarino".  If there were tone holes in Weimar in the mid 1700s it is logical to assume that they may have been known on Leipzig in the early 1700s.

Smithers rejects the case for Baroque tone-holes, but he does this on the basis of the lack of positive evidence, but, as Popper has pointed out, proof requires definite negative evidence.  Lets keep an open mind on the subject!


Bob Burne