Instrumentation: Trumpet and Piano
Range: f# - g''
Difficulty (I-VI): III
Parts for: Trumpet in B flat or F
Series: The Kail Legacy
Editor: Edward H. Tarr
The present Variations for the Trumpet in F are the first composition in history for a solo trumpet with valves. With this edition, publisher and editor wish to call attention to its composer, a longforgotten pioneer: Josef Kail (1795-1871), the first professor of valved trumpet at the Prague Conservatory. Since he accepted this position in 1826 and comparable positions were not created until 1830 in Barcelona and 1833 in Paris, Kail even has the distinction of having been the first professor of trumpet anywhere. (He retired in 1867.) What was the situation around 1826? Let us remember that the valved trumpet had only been in existence for about a decade, replacing two predecessors: the natural trumpet ("ordinary trumpet") of Bach, Handel, and Beethoven with its risky intonation, and the keyed trumpet of Haydn and Hummel with its nasal tone and uneven response with opened vs. closed keys. In being the champion of the valved trumpet, then, Kail ushered in the modern era of playing. In addition, he was closely involved with the development of two types of valve: the socalled Vienna valve (1823) and the rotary valve (1835), both in collaboration with the Viennese brass instrument maker Joseph Riedl (d.1840). Since no methods existed at that time for the new instrument, not to mention soloistic works, Prof. Kail went to work. For his class he wrote not only a trumpet and fluegelhorn method, and trios and quartets on opera motifs for brass ensembles, but also the very first solo works in history for valved trumpet or he had them written. They all remained in manuscript. One of them is the present composition. Others by composers such as Mozart, Grimm, Donizetti, Lindpaintner, Kalliwoda, and Höfner are scheduled to appear in authorized editions with mcnaughtan. Two such works from Kail's estate, by C. Kreutzer and F. D. Weber, are already available in modern editions.
Themes with variations were perhaps the most popular category of composition of 19thcentury instrumental virtuosos. The present Variations for the Trumpet in F from Kail's pen were premiered on 23 March 1827 during a Prague Conservatory concert. The soloist, one Karl Chlum, received his diploma a year later and then went on to become a band director in Austria. That first demonstration of the trumpet's capabilities as a solo instrument, and a fully chromatic one at that, was a memorable event and did not go unnoticed. The Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung reported on the event: "Mr. Chlum performed variations on the chromatic trumpet invented by Mr. Kail, and delivered renewed proof of how much the trumpet has profited by this extremely sensible invention, in that, similarly to the other wind instruments, it has been elevated to the status of a solo instrument." A comparison with both predecessor instruments yielded a complete victory for the valved trumpet: "The chromatic trumpet has the advantage over the keyed one that all the chromatic intervals sound perfect on it, like the natural tones of the ordinary trumpet." This, the earliest solo composition for valved trumpet, displays a mature form with introduction, four variations, and a lively concluding Polonaise, a dance much in favor then. Similar works in the virtuoso literature for other instruments such as violin or piano provided enough models. Kail must have borrowed the theme from somewhere else, for we know another, somewhat later set of variations on the same theme from St. Petersburg. Kail's work masterfully evokes the nature of the old lowpitched "Romantic trumpet". It best displays its warm, soulful tone in slower movements such as the introduction, the theme, and the Adagio with its yearning character (4th variation, in the minor). Rapid arpeggios on the other hand (3rd variation), easily executed on the modern Bflat trumpet, push this long, somewhat sluggish instrument to its limits.