Fantasia for Solo Trumpet (2008)
By Lauren Bernofsky

Biographical Info

Although Lauren Bernofsky was trained as a violinist, she has contributed a substantial amount to the brass repertory.  Her list of compositions can be found here.

The Fantasia for solo trumpet was commissioned by John W. Cain.

Suggested Equipment

Lauren composed this for Bb or C trumpet.  Except for the high E at the very end I prefer to play this on C trumpet.  Lauren composed an alternate ending that makes using a C trumpet much more doable; however I prefer the original ending musically.

I used an Eclipse Bb on the recording below and played the original ending.


Practice/Performance Tips

This piece isn’t tonal in the traditional sense but definitely has strong tonal areas, d minor being “tonic”.  It is almost theme and variation-like with the following 5 sections exploring ideas laid out in the opening 7 measures.  The 2nd section introduces the note Eb which becomes important when paired with the note D in the beautiful slow section.  This half-step relationship is very expressive and should be dealt with with care.

What I am calling the 4th section is a flowing, rolling eighth-note triplet section that starts in measure 30.  Try to flow through this section as gracefully as possible and NOT reach your dynamic pinnacle until measure 40.  (It is tempting to get there in m. 38, but wait.)  While it’s not written, I feel a ritard around 45-46 and an accelerando in 49 that brings us back to the original opening material.

The final sixteenth-note triplet section is a real finger twister.  I ended up playing a lot of the low E’s and low A’s third valve to avoid the cross-finger issue.

I have thought a lot about why I enjoy Lauren’s music so much.  First, I must admit that I am only really familiar with this Fantasia and her Concerto also reviewed here.  There is something familiar about her music but at the same time loaded with interesting twists and unexpected deviations.  While you are playing her music you are somehow aware that it was not written by a trumpet player but at the same time is a blast to play because it feels fresh and new, yet completely relatable.  Her harmonic language is identifiably and uniquely hers while being engaging and not overtly intellectual to the listener.  To me, her music is a fantastic balance between the emotional and intellectual; technical and lyrical side of 21st Century composition.  We in the trumpet community should be thrilled such a fantastic composer has taken an interest in writing for our instrument.  I sure hope hers’ is a sign of things to come in this generation of composers.

Suggested Recordings

Lauren has offered this piece on her website for free download.  She has also done something very creative there and created a Fantasia Audio Blog.  This is a place where players can freely submit their own recordings of this piece for others to review compare and contrast.  I think this is a great way to start a dialog about the interpretation of a given work.