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The French orchestral trumpet tradition in nineteenth-century Paris: competing claims of François Auguste Dauverné and Jean-Baptiste Arban, 1820–1880

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posted on 03.03.2017, 01:57 authored by Priest, Sean Wayne
François Georges Auguste Dauverné and Jean-Baptiste Laurent Arban represent two competing claims in the French trumpet tradition that militated against the adoption of the valve trumpet in the elite orchestras of Paris. These claims were manifest in their respective biography and pedagogy. Dauverné personifies the dominant conservatism that resisted valve technology in favour of the natural trumpet of the ancien régime. As the instrument was falling into disuse, Dauverné’s Méthode pour la trompette (1857) was a defence of the natural trumpet premised on its natural timbral purity, historical continuity, and elite status. It was also a lament shaped by Dauverné’s removal from performing life in the decade after 1843. Arban’s La grande méthode complète de cornet à piston et de saxhorn (1864) promoted the cornet as the heir to the orchestral trumpet based on its chromatic facility, timbral uniformity, and mass popularity. Arban’s advocacy of the instrument was also an appeal to the art music elite at the Conservatoire, for personal acceptance in fields within which he had rarely worked and with which he had only peripheral association. While the cornet was widely used in place of the valve trumpet after 1835, its timbre was questioned, and it garnered a culturally low association with popular music, and dance orchestras, alongside its military use. Arban’s career solidified the instrument’s associations outside the elite orchestra. In the 1870s contrary to the advocacy of Dauverné and Arban, the trends they represented gave way to the historically contested, but ultimately pragmatic processes by which their students and younger colleagues embraced the modern valve trumpet. This instrument had come to broadly and satisfactorily unite the musical facility of the cornet, and the natural timbre, and historical and cultural nobility of the trumpet.


Principal supervisor

Paul Watt

Additional supervisor 1

Jonathan McIntosh

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Sir Zelman Cowan School of Music

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts