1985 (appx 10’)
7 trumpets (piccolo, natural, Eb, Bb, bass trumpets, flugelhorn), perc., piano, organ.
Commissioned and by John Wallace and the Wallace Collection,
Won IX Internazionale Premio Ancona
2014 (appx 10′)
7 trumpets (piccolo, natural, Eb, Bb, bass trumpets, flugelhorn), perc., piano, 2 cellos, 3 double basses. New version made for RNCM ‘After the Silence… Music in the Shadow of War’.
Revelation 9:1-11: “Then the Fifth Trumpet angel sounded and I saw a star having fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.”
“Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree; but only those men who do not have the seal of God in their foreheads. And they were not authorized to kill them, but to torment them for five months: and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death, and will not find it; and they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.”
“The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they had breastplates, like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots of many horses running into battle.”
“They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek his name is Apollo.”
“One woe is past. Behold, two more woes are coming hereafter”.
When John Wallace formed the Wallace Collection, he brought together the finest trumpet players in the United Kingdom. Legendary names of the past such as John Wilbraham and David Mason joined forces with the finest up-and-coming players such as Mark Bennett and Bob Farley. Their first concert was to be in the Queen Elizabeth Hall and John Wallace, then my trumpet teacher at the Royal College of Music, asked me to compose a piece for this remarkable ensemble. I wanted to create a work that would leave a message and provoke thought as well as being a demonstration of virtuosity.
The biblical story of the seven trumpets of the apocalypse from The Book of Revelation lended itself to this instrumentation as well as my intention. Here was the profoundest allegory that responds to the results of man’s inhumanity to man and his environment spawning suffering and torment in the most dramatic ways. The parallels with the horrors of war need no elaboration.
‘The Fifth Trumpet’ describes an initial vision of Heaven from which the Fifth Angel blows his trumpet. A star falls from heaven creating an earthly abyss from which smoke pours and the locusts with scorpion stings inflict months of agony on mankind who seek the solace of death. But death evades them. The programmatic intent of the story should be apparent in the clearly defined sections of the piece. A range of trumpets are used: piccolo trumpets, natural trumpets in old pitch keys, Eb, Bb and bass trumpets. Together with these are percussion, piano and either organ (as in the 1985 original score) or 2 ‘cellos and 3 basses (as in this 2014 revision). The trumpet writing pushes the instruments to extreme limits, not least the 5th trumpet part, which has specific solo passages and which was written for John Wallace. In the first performance, the 4th trumpet part was played by wonderful John Miller, now Head of Brass at the RNCM, the conservatoire that requested this new version be made. In the 2014 revision, several changes have been made: the organ part has been reworked for lower strings and there has been some rationalising of barring and some minor simplification of the actual instrumental parts.
© Paul Max Edlin 2014
Scores available on request