For unaccompanied flugel horn or Bb trumpet
by David Sampson

Biographical Info

David Sampson (b. 1951, Charlottesville, Virginia) has emerged as one of the truly unique voices of his generation achieving rapidly growing attention from major orchestras, soloists and ensembles.  He holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music, Hunter College, Manhattan School of Music, and the Ecoles d’ Art Americaines, where his teachers included Karel Husa, Henri Dutilleux and John Corigliano in composition; and Gerard Schwarz, Gilbert Johnson, Robert Nagel, and Raymond Mase in trumpet.

Selected works include Hommage JFK commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra; Triptych for trumpet and orchestra commissioned by the International Trumpet Guild and premiered by Raymond Mase at the Aspen Music Festival and with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall;  Strata commissioned by the NEA and the American Brass Quintet; and three orchestral works commissioned by the Colonial Symphony Orchestra.

I recently learned from Mr. Sampson that Solo is available through Editions BIM in a collection of unaccompanied works and duets, composed by David Sampson.

The “Notes from Faraway Places” were written between 1992-99. Each etude is labeled with the city or area in which it was composed. Two exceptions: Suite 3, Etude 2, “The Crow’s Nest”, is the name of my music studio in Morristown, New Jersey; Suite 3, Etude 3, “Solo”, is a piece for solo flugelhorn that appeared in the International Trumpet Guild Journal in 1992.
The suites call for Bb and Eb trumpets along with flugelhorn. The duets at the end of each suite use ideas from at least one of the etudes within the suite and as a result, constitute in each case a coda.

Suggested Equipment

Flugel horn is preferred but Bb is an option.

I used an Eclipse Flugel horn for this clip.

Practice/Performance Tips

I love unaccompanied trumpet music and this is one of my favorites.

Sampson “Solo”

The music of David Sampson that I have encountered can look complex and intimidating.  His music is indeed complex and rich, however there is always a very strong sense of lyricism and “organic-ness” present in his music.  The lyricism in “Solo” comes from a feeling of constant ebb and flow of tempo (rubato).  David has notated this rhythmic motion so the rhythmic palette on the page is very diverse but the melodies are very strong and spin out from one another in a way that I can only think of as organic.  Although it is curious that in the 2nd and 4th measures of the opening theme he writes simple eighth note rhythms with the directions to poco accel. and accel. In other places where that motive is used, he incorporates more complex rhythms to express this flourish.  (see m. 31 and 33)  Perhaps those motives should be interpreted more dramatically with more movement than a simple acceleration.  For the younger player, listening to “Solo” and looking at “Solo” are two very different experiences.  Get past the intimidation factor of 32nd-notes, spread beaming and learn the notes and listen, and this music will begin to play you.

“Solo” sounds very improvisatory and indeed should be approached with this in mind.  Allow yourself to stretch this or that rhythm or expand this or that dynamic.  I think attempting to play this piece the same way twice would take away most of the meaning and soul behind the work.

Suggested Recordings

The only recording of “Solo” that I am aware of is on Ray Mase’s “Trumpet in Our Time”.  This CD is absolutely fantastic in all regards and should be in every serious trumpet player’s collection.