Shazam for trumpet solo (1984)
By Folke Rabe

Biographical Info

Folke Rabe born 1935:

‘A portrait of Folke Rabe,’ as Goran Bergendal has wittily observed, ‘would be made up of one composer (or two or even three), a couple of trombone players (jazz trombone and member of the Culture Quartet), one actor (the New Culture Quartet), one teacher (the Sound Workshops, which helped people to find their ears), several administrators (social educator, school concert organizer, head of the concert agency and programme director at the Swedish Concert Institute) and a couple of radio producers (in charge of music for young listeners and of experimental, jazz and traditional music respectively) – all accomplished with a unique mixture of pedantic carefulness, undisputed professionalism, an elaborate turn of phrase, socialistic involvement, a suffering world conscience and a bizarre sense of fun.

Rabe’s voyages of discovery as a composer took him to rebellious cells with no respect for established boundaries – in Finland (Kaj Chydenius, Otto Donner) and the USA (Terry Riley, Ann Halprin’s Dancers’ Workshop of San Francisco), as well as to countries like Bosnia and Peru for field-studies in folk music – rather than to Swedish composers’ traditional Meccas on the Continent. Choral music and music for wind instruments have appealed to him more than the symphony orchestra or the string quartet.’

As a composer, Rabe was considered an avant-gardist in the 1960s, with works such as Bolos for four trombones (the Culture Quartet) and Rondes for choir (one of his most widely performed works). From 1983 to 1997 he was a member of the intermedia group, The New Culture Quartet, mixing electronic and live music with film projections and other visual elements.

From the 1980s music for brass has played a prominent part in his output. There are solo concertos for trumpet, trombone and horn, and a concerto for brass quintet and symphony orchestra, as well as chamber music. His electronic work What??, composed in 1967, recently became better known after being reissued on CD, while Håkan Hardenberger’s recording of his trumpet concerto Sardine Sarcophagus won a Swedish ‘Grammis’ award in 2000.

From the B.B.C. PROMS program booklet, August 2004

Suggested Equipment

Bb Trumpet

No mutes, however there are staging (theatrical) notes.  There are arrows throughout the work directing the direction of your bell.

Practice/Performance Tips


Where does one begin with this piece!?  I’ve plugged away on and off for about a year before ever performing it.  And, after performing it three times and making this little recording, I would have to say that performing it live is easier.  The audience has no idea what to expect so you have the element of surprise in your favor.  Aside from the obvious virtuosic challenges, the biggest challenge I have and still have with this piece is connecting the phrases.  It’s very difficult to not make this sound like just a bunch of random technical licks.  There are some long lyrical sections and then one- or two-notes surrounded by rests.  Working very hard to follow the dynamic suggestions brings drama and direction.

At first glance (and the 100th!) the work looks intimidating but as you get into it you realize that many of the “scalular” runs are just one major scale going up and another one going down just not starting and stopping on the roots.  Finding these major scale patterns helped my brain relax quite a bit.

Editorial notes:  There are a few measures with the incorrect number of beats in them, usually caused by missing dots or wrong stems.  There are also a couple of places where it’s difficult to know if the accidental is supposed to carry through the entire bar or not.  In these instances of questionable notes, I referred to Håkan’s recording figuring that he probably had contact with the composer to verify such issues.

Suggested Recordings

Håkan Hardenberger – ”THE VIRTUOSO TRUMPET”, BIS-CD-287

There is also a YouTube video of Lorenzo Trujillo playing it from memory here.