Maurice Murphy's Farewell Tribute reminded me of an interview he gave to Harold Nash of "Sounding Brass" magazine (now defunct, I believe). Maurice joined the LSO the year before the interview, and some of the answers he gave are certainly worth digging out, so here are a few:
"When I first went to the Northern (BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra, where he was principal for 17 years before going to the LSO; DM) I had no hope of coping with the reading and transposition but the second trumpet there then was Harold Hall and he used to tip me off about looking at the parts with tricky tranpositions. I don't know anything about theory or the rudiments of music and I'm not interested in scales and how many sharps or flats a piece is in. They are all just notes and I transpose note for note or by ear. When I first started I used to listen if anyone else ha the same figure and then play it by ear. I picked up a lot of transpostion from that."
It seems that Maurice Murphy's entrance to the professional world ol orchestral playing was almost accidental: or had he always nursed ambitions in that direction?
"It just happened. I couldn't do anything else and in any case it's better than work-I tried that too, being covered in oil and grease before nine o'c/ock in the morning."
The stay with the B.B.C. Northern lasted nearly I7 years until the invitation came to join one of the world's greatest orchestras as Principal Trumpet.
"I never really wanted to come to London but it was just the money that made me. It I'd got the same money up in Manchester I would never have moved. At the same time, I got fed up with the way the BBC treat their musicians. Now that I am down here I wish I'd done it years ago. Apart from the money they are more appreciative down here and I find it much easier to play with the LSO. I've never been hooked on music and as tar as I'm concerned it's just a job. If I won the pools I'd probably nail my trumpet to a barn door or make a table lamp out of it. From a playing point ot view I like anything you can get your teeth into: something you can legitimately make a mess of. The things I find difficult are getting up in the morning and getting the instrument out of the case. I'm not interested in orchestras at all really. I just do it, that's all. Some top-liners think, talk, eat and drink music. I just dont like it! If I have the car radio on it's tuned in to the 'pop'station. If I didn't have a job tor six months I certainly wouldn't take it out and have a blow. If I have a solo date I might just have to run it through but I can do that in the TV commercials. Also, if I'm going to use the D trumpet (Maurice played all Bach works on a Besson D at the time; DM) I might have to take it out at home to free the valves."
It is clear that Maurice Murphy is a unique talent with a completely fresh and unsophisticated approach to the problems of brass playing and his reply to my request for advice to youngsters eager to emulate his success was not unexpected.
"Just put in on the face and press till it hurts."
So much for all the methods you guys use ;-))