Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra (1997)
By Lauren Bernofsky
Piano reduction by the composer (2001)

Biographical Info

Although Lauren Bernofsky was trained as a violinist, she has contributed a substantial amount to the brass repertory.  Among these pieces is her Trumpet Concerto (1997), a full-length work cast in the traditional formal plan of the classical concerto, but in a more modern tonal language.

The piano reduction premiere occurred on July 28, 2001 in Madison, Wisconsin, with Mary Thornton as soloist.  The orchestral premier occurred on August 12, 2001 in Bergen, Norway, with Gary Peterson as soloist.

I would suggest that Mary Thornton would be the definitive trumpet resource on this piece as she did her doctoral dissertation on this work which you can purchase here.  Mary also did a great interview with Lauren about her concerto that was published in the ITG journal here.

Suggested Equipment

The edition available from Theodore Presser ships with a C trumpet part, and piano part.


The first movement calls for straight mute.  The passages to be muted are lyrical and soft so I would opt for a wood, fiber or non-metal straight mute to soften the sound.  You may also want to try a dampener ring on the mute.

The second movement calls for a cup mute.  I chose a dark, smoky sounding cup rather than the tight, bright, jazz cup.  I felt this better conveyed the sensual quality of this movement.  I used a TrumCor metal cup.

The excerpt clips included here are from a recital I gave in November of 2009.  I used an Eclipse C trumpet and TrumCor mutes.

Practice/Performance Tips

The first movement Allegro, is based on principles of sonata form, with a relatively fast first theme and a more lyrical second theme.  The trumpet’s opening flourish begins with an outline of a G major dominant chord, but by the top of the arpeggio the B (or third) has become a Bb, thus implying g minor.  This major/minor interplay foreshadows the character of the first theme, which plays the ideas of minor and major off of each other.  The lyrical second theme borrows its accompanimental figures from the first three notes of the first theme, and the trumpet plays this gently-cascading second theme muted, for a more mysterious color.  The movement has the traditional development section followed by a recapitulation and ending with a virtuosic cadenza.

Notes: Rehearsal G is very awkward on the fingers.  Go slow at first to ingrain the right pattern.  The toughest section for me was J – K.  It’s not idiomatic, which is fine.  (Remember, composed by a string player!)  We as trumpet players should welcome the opportunity to further our technical palette.

Bernofsky 1-1

The second movement, Cantilena, has a more intimate character, and the trumpet is once again muted as it plays the singing solo line.  The piece is in ternary form; in the middle section, the trumpet plays the melody, and then this material is taken over by the piano while the trumpet plays an accompanimental line.  The unusual, haunting harmonies in this movement come from the simultaneous use of two tonal centers, D major and Eb major.

Notes: This has become one of my favorite movements in all trumpet literature.  It has a very sultry, sexy rumba-tango underlying quality.  The opening octave and again at B  and the end are a blast to sing through.  Don’t play at the leap, play through it.

Bernofsky 2

The third movement, marked Allegro leggiero, is a quick and sprightly movement following the outline of a rondo form, though one of the intervening sections is itself an A-B-A.  The dance-like character of this movement comes from the use of asymmetrical meters.  The cadenza in this movement comes to a close with a curious technique: while playing a trill, the trumpeter slowly adjusts the third slide so that the half-step trill gradually becomes unison repeated notes.

Notes: It was helpful to line up with the piano at rehearsal F by thinking those first two measures in 6/8 rather than 3/4.  Try to keep the pulse of the phrase in 3 but the pulse of the bars in 2.  There is a wonderful extended cadenza at O.  The way it is written looks like it should be played in somewhat strict time.  After living with it for a while I find it to be much more open and spontaneous.  In fact this is one cadenza that I have never played the same way twice.

Bernofsky 3

Suggested Recordings

As of this posting, I know of no commercially available recordings of this work.  Although you can here entire clips at Lauren’s site in both the orchestral and piano versions.