Denecke: Reexamining the Repertoire: 20th Century French Trumpet Solos by Women Composers
CitationDenecke, Elijah. "Reexamining the Repertoire: 20th Century French Trumpet Solos by Women Composers." Lecture presented at the International Trumpet Guild Conference, San Antonio, TX, June 1, 2022.
French composers in the mid-twentieth century produced some of the most frequently played solo works for the trumpet. However, many works written by French women of this same time period and genre have either been lost, never been categorized, or have otherwise gone unplayed. Gendered criticism, the widespread use of pseudonyms, securing performance past an initial premiere, and balancing home and professional lives were all obstacles for women who wanted to have a career in composition. Taking a closer look at three composers, I hope to encourage trumpeters to explore the relatively unknown solo trumpet works of these three French women composers.
Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983) enjoyed the greatest acceptance of all the French women composers writing for the trumpet during the mid-twentieth century. Her association with Les Six provided a network that allowed her music to be played perhaps more than any other French woman of her time. An in-depth look at her Gaillarde will examine the neo-classical move away from romanticism displayed by many French composers at the time.
Claude Arrieu (1903-1990) wrote many pieces for trumpet between the 1930’s and the 1960’s. A student of Paul Dukas, she developed a unique writing style that showcases the trumpet’s role as a virtuosic solo instrument. Her Concertstücke rivals the energy and difficulty of contemporary works written by Henri Tomasi and André Jolivet.
Jeanine Rueff (1922-1999) is possibly the best known to the trumpet community as her Sonatine has been recorded by Timofei Dokshizer, Sergei Nakariakov, and Giuliano Sommerhalder. Sonatine is a highly challenging work, demanding a complete command of the instrument to perform well. Very few of her other works have been performed or recorded.
Resources explored include Female Composers, Conductors, Performers: Musiciennes of Interwar France, 1919-1939 by Laura Hamer which provide much of the relevant information to this section, while The Norton/Grove Dictionary of Women Composers is be used as a unifying source of biographical information for the aforementioned composers. Scores will also be used to show musical examples from each of the chosen pieces that highlight salient features within each work. One of the most important reasons for this project is to confront the inherent challenges that plague repertoire selection. Though it is important to recognize the pieces we deem “standard” in our repertoire, we must also wrestle with the question of why this subjective list includes so few pieces written by women composers. Pieces by women are often published in smaller quantities, therefore making them harder to obtain and less likely to be performed or recorded. It is through this research that I hope to pique the interest of my fellow trumpet players and encourage discussion of how solo trumpet works by French women composers can be integrated into the greater body of standard repertoire.
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- Hamer, Laura. Female Composers, Conductors, Performers: Musiciennes of Interwar France, 1919-1939. London: Routledge, 2018.
- Harris, Amanda. "The Spectacle of Woman as Creator: Representation of Women Composers in the French, German and English Feminist Press 1880-1930." Women's History Review 23, no. 1 (Jan 02, 2014): 18-42. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09612025.2013.846113. Patterson, Brittney Elizabeth. "La Flûte Et La Femme: A Study of Selected Chamber Music for Flute by Germaine Tailleferre." Order No. 10816113, The University of Alabama, 2018.
- Sadie, Julie Anne and Rhian Samuel. The Norton/Grove Dictionary of Women Composers. New York: The Macmillan Press Limited, 1995.
- Shamu, Geoffrey. "Merri Franquin and His Contribution to the Art of Trumpet Playing." Order No. 3345584, Boston University, 2009.