Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Brass History

This article, written by David Wilken, provides a nice, concise history of brass instruments.

David Wilken has a diverse background as a performer, as his biography mentions, but the article provides a nice general introduction to the general topic of brass history.

Maryland Early Brass Festival

For anyone interested in early brass performance, this one-day event would prove a rich learning experience.

With lectures, workshops and performances, it seems that a player or ensemble would gain much from visiting an event like this, especially if a player of your primary instrument is the artist-in-residence of the year.

Medieval and Renaissance Music Resources

In addition to the strange thing called the "Library" that we have here at school, this website provides a great deal of information regarding Medieval and Renaissance music.  This information would come in handy were a group performing something from this period, as it would enable the players to give a historically informed performance, rather than simply delivering the notes as though they were Romantic or contemporary writing.

Blechblas-Instrumentenbau Egger

This is the site of a Swiss manufacturer of brass instruments.  While the bio doesn't specifically mention this, they seem to have a large amount of historic replicas currently in production.  I suppose that a manufacturer wouldn't bother to make instruments like this if there weren't some demand for them, so I think we can take that as an indication that the study and performance of early brass music is alive and well.

La Spiritata

While not much information is available on this ensemble, making it hard to judge their "success," it goes along with what we were talking about in class.  These guys met over the summer, and enjoyed playing together, and because of that particular blend of personalities, they have decided to form a group.  They may not be the best players, but if they got along over the summer, chances are there will be a healthy group dynamic in which they can help improve both as a group and individually.

Berlioz Historical Brass

This group was inspired by a Boston Symphony Orchestra performance of Berlioz's 'Messe Sollenelle,' in which the serpent, a period instrument, was included in the orchestra.  Since then, they have had an interesting aim as a group: to further the study and understanding of instruments from this period, rather than searching for venues in which to perform.

They have collaborated on some recordings, listed on their website, and have given lectures and have even helped to create their own editions of music that includes the instruments that they study.

Territorial Brass

Though this doesn't represent quite as early a period as some of the other ensembles I've blogged about, it still merits mentioning.  

This band, based in Arizona, captures a unique time period: music of the American town band from 1835 through to Arizona's statehood.  Like other reenactment-type bands, the members dress in costume.  Their program seems to contain some element of "show," as there is narration and sing-along to engage the audience.

More can be found at their website, here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Purcell Video

This is a depiction of what a brass ensemble may have played as a funeral march during the late 1600s.  Ensemble includes sackbut, trumpets, and drum.

Unaffordable Early Brass Video

Got a VHS player?  Got $70 to burn?  This is for you.

Historic Brass Society

This organization is responsible for the much-acclaimed Historic Brass Society Journal, in which cutting-edge scholarly research in the area of early brass music and instruments is published.

Their website is a nice resource as well, containing the blogs of HBS members.

Check it out here.

Early Music Chicago: Brass

This is another terrific online resource for early brass.  Visitors can find information about the instruments themselves, as well as links to ensembles, recordings, and more.

Visit the site here.

Maryland Early Brass

Located at http://www.earlybrass.org, this group is based in the Baltimore area but is active throughout the mid-Atlantic United States.  They seem dedicated to performance on authentic instruments, and their website has many links to useful early brass resources that would be relevant to our class discussions.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Dodworth Saxhorn Band

On one of my first posts, a comment was left suggesting that I check out this ensemble... I'm glad I did!

Going one step further than providing historically-informed performance, The Dodworth Saxhorn Band is a full reenactment of one of the first all-brass American band.  As their performance includes costume and actual antique instruments (from c. 1860-80), we might say that this period brass ensemble has found a way to incorporate entertainment into an otherwise highly intellectual genre.

Their website can be found here.

His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornetts

This is an ensemble which I've posted about before, and I played some of their music during my listening presentation.

This is a video I found in which they perform part of a sonata by Dario Castello (c. 1590-1630) in the church where Thomas Tallis was buried.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Academy of Ancient Music

This ensemble, founded and conducted by the aforementioned Christopher Hogwood in 1973, has since become one of the most prestigious and well-regarded early music ensembles.  Their massive discography can be found on their website, although not all of the recordings are available in the United States.

As a group, their mission seems simple: to play early music at as high a level as possible, and while being as historically informed as possible.  It seems that they need not do much in the way of "show" in order to maintain their audience, since the clientele they play to know what they're after in a concert.

So it would seem that in the continuum of Artistry vs. Showmanship, they lean far toward Artistry, without any gimmicks or pranks onstage.  But with a target audience as informed and learned as the group undoubtedly draws, this seems less necessary than if they were trying to appeal to a wider range of listeners.

Their website can be found at http://www.aam.co.uk.

Christopher Hogwood

Christopher Hogwood is possibly the most famous early music conductor and keyboard player of our time.  His discography, while it branches out into the Classical era, covers an amazingly wide range of composers.  He founded the world-renowned early music ensemble The Academy of Ancient Music, and has played with numerous other ensembles of equal fame.

His website gives more detailed information, as well as a full discography, which is quite an impressive list.  Perhaps it is possible to make a career in Early Music!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Les Six

In response to our recent discussion on Poulenc's Sonata for Horn, Trumpet and Trombone, I felt it appropriate to check out some information on Les Six, of which Poulenc was a part.  For those of us who are too lazy to visit the library, here is an interesting web page discussing Les Six:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornetts

One of the ensembles that I played during my listening day was His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornetts.  They appeared on the "made-up" Bach recording... Some of the selections were unrealistic, especially that moving part on the sagbutt, but it still gives musicologists something to dream about!

Their official site can be found here, and some additional information here.

Piffaro Renaissance Band


Piffaro is a Renaissance band based in Philadelphia.  With world-class recordings and a very busy performance schedule, Piffaro is one of the most influential early music groups today.

Their website is a wealth of information and sample media, but something you won't find on the website is that my friend Priscilla Smith, an oboist from Temple, has been playing with them.

More information will be forthcoming, as I'm planning on focusing on this group for my final project.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chestnut Brass

The Chestnut Brass Company is a brass quintet based in the Philadelphia area,  part of whose focus is performing on historical and antique brass instruments.  In addition to playing established works, they also commission new works.  This very interesting mixture of historical and modern perspectives has appealed to audiences and educators since the group's formation in 1977.

As a side note, I remember this group coming to my High School, and they had an arsenal of antique instruments at their disposal.  Before playing works from the instruments' era, they took the time to introduce the historical instruments, and gave us some great insight into the way their modern counterparts developed.

You can check out their website at http://www.chestnutbrass.com.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

First Post

Welcome, one and all, and thanks for taking the time to read!  This blog was created as a project for the Advanced Brass Ensemble Literature class offered at the University of Iowa.  With this blog, I'd like to take a closer look at a subject which I know little about: modern reproductions of early brass instruments, and the performance of some of the earliest music written specifically for brass.  My hope is that I can bring together some of the information found on the web on early brass instruments and ensembles, making it a little easier to understand our origins as musicians.