Tromba Solo
Ketil Hvoslef b.1939

Biographical Info

Ketil Hvoslef studied the viola and organ at the Music Conservatory in Bergen Norway, from which he graduated as an organist.  He later taught ear training and theory at that Conservatory.  His music is difficult to classify because it differs with each piece.  His style has evolved from an almost new-classical mode of expression to an intensely personal musical language, characterized by great rhythmic ingenuity.  “Tromba Solo” is a major work in the solo trumpet repertoire in its breadth, scope, complexity and duration.  Most works for solo trumpet are “miniatures” or in multiple shorter movements.  This is one 11’ movement that incorporates many themes that are woven together in an overlapping fashion.  Some themes require complex multiple tonguing, another large, leaping intervals and another contrasts the complexity with its lyrical simplicity.  “Tromba Solo” was commissioned by the famous Norwegian trumpeter Harry Kvebaek, whose assistance was of considerable help in the process of writing this piece.  “Tromba Solo” has been revised many times, but has finally been published in its’ initial version.  The work was recorded by Norwegian trumpet player Ole Edvard Antonsen, 1st Prize winner of the Geneva International Trumpet Competition in 1987, and has entered the repertoire of the trumpet players worldwide.

Suggested Equipment

This is written for C trumpet but could be played on Bb.  There is a large section in the middle that calls for mute but doesn’t specify what kind.  I went back and forth deciding between a cup and a straight and finally compromised on a wooden straight made by Balu.  Most mutes seem to be good at displaying one particular dynamic or timbre.  This particular section is very expressive and all over the map, dynamically and texturally, so use a mute that has a range of expression.

Practice/Performance Tips

First off, I have to confess that I have been working on this piece on and off for over a year.  It may not take other players this long to work up but I had to develop a new technique in order to execute major parts of the work.  The opening and closing sections require the player to seamlessly go between double and triple tonguing within the same sixteenth-note line.  I have a hard enough time doing one or the other but other than the quintuplets in Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale, I’ve not encountered a need to double tongue then triple tongue in the same passage.  And especially for such a long period of time!

However, now being able to play something like [sixteenths grouped in 4-3-3-2-3-4] is very liberating.  And, I learned a lot while figuring out how to develop this technique and add it to my bag of tricks.  Aside from the multi-tongue issue the other major challenge was focus and concentration for such a long unaccompanied piece.  The work really tells a story but it can be hard to stay engaged during the minimalistic middle sections.

This recording is from a recital I gave in Duluth Minn in conjunction with my good friend and fantastic trumpet player/professor, Tom Pfotenhauer.  This was my first performance of the piece and there are plenty of gaffs here and there to prove it.  However, I still think you can get an idea of the beauty and scope of the work itself.  I had to cut the recording in two in order to fit the 8mb maximum.

Hvoslef 1

Hvoslef 2

Suggested Recordings

Ole Edvard Antonsen, Trumpet/ Einar Henning Smebye, Piano