Litany of Breath
For Unaccompanied Trumpet
By David Sampson

Biographical Info

David Sampson is a trumpet player, teacher and composer living in New Jersey.  He has made considerable contributions to 20th and 21st Century trumpet literature by composing more than fifteen works featuring the trumpet as well as works for wind ensemble, brass ensembles of various instrumentation and choirs.  Further biographical information on David Sampson can be found here.  A complete listing of David’s compositions can be found here.

Suggested Equipment

C or Bb trumpet and a cup mute.

For the clips included here I used an Eclipse C trumpet and a TrumCor metal cup.

Practice/Performance Tips

Litany of Breath

Litany of Breath was written for the International Trumpet Guild in 1981.  It is one movement, in three sections; a sustained, lyrical opening, a lively odd-meter middle, and returns to a lyrical close.  The composition is built largely around the interval of the major 7th, which is a rather large leap for the trumpet!  The opening notes outline a series of intervals that appear in the middle “dance-like” section and return at the end.  The use of the same intervals, even with a varied rhythmic palette, ties the entire piece together as a wonderful, cohesive whole.

Litany of Breath is a contrast from Sampson’s other unaccompanied trumpet piece Solo (reviewed here) in that strict rhythmic attention is called for in the middle section in order to fully bring out the meter changes.  This piece still maintains a great lyrical quality even while adhering to the odd rhythms and large intervals.

I would say that Litany of Breath is every bit as rewarding as Solo but is slightly more challenging.  I have performed both of these pieces and they convey a very strong emotional depth that the audiences have really responded to nicely.  (I can’t say that for all of the unaccompanied trumpet literature out there!  Some of that is more fun for us to work up than audiences to listen to…)

Suggested Recordings

As of this posting, I know of no commercially available recordings of this work.