Maurice André, Regarded as World's Greatest Solo Trumpeter, Dies at 78

Sunday, February 26, 2012 - 03:45 PM

Maurice André, the son of French miner who sparked an international renaissance for the solo trumpet, died Saturday at age 78. André was praised for his bright tone and seemingly effortless virtuosity, but he also played a role in the Baroque music revival through his playing on the piccolo trumpet. André appeared on more than 300 recordings over a 50-plus-year career.

He died in a hospital in Urrugne, near his home in southwestern France. His family declined to disclose the cause of death.

André was born in 1933 in Rochebelle near Ales in the south of France. He followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a miner at age 14, even as he had begun playing cornet and then trumpet. His father, who was also an amateur trumpet player, recognized the depth of young Maurice's talent and arranged lessons for him with a local teacher.

While his father couldn't afford to send him to the Paris Conservatoire, the young André's teacher devised a plan: he would gain a scholarship to the prestigious school by first joining a military band. The scheme worked, and at the age of 18, André began studies at the conservatory under Raymond Sabarich.

In 1953, André began playing professionally in two ensembles, the Lamoureux Concert Association Orchestra and the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra. Competition victories soon followed, including the Munich International Competition -- of which he was invited to be a judge but he instead entered as a contestant and won first prize. By age 30 he had established a solo career.

Because the repertory for trumpet is small, André began transcribing -- or convincing others to transcribe -- works for violin, oboe, voice and other instruments. André also began commissioning works from some of the leading composers of the day including Blacher, Jolivet, and Tomasi.

André was eager to pass on his art, and worked as a professor at the Paris Conservatoire until 1978, where he taught over 100 trumpeters. He also became known to the general public, frequently appearing on television. In a 1978 interview, André estimated that he typically played a 180-concert schedule and had made over 220 recordings up to that time. That included the occasional crossover and jazz gig as well as concerto appearances.

In 2004, when André retired from the concert stage, he wrote a column for the Paris newspaper Le Monde. Among his observations: "The trumpet is a difficult instrument. It arouses mixed feelings, whether it's used for the military, the spirit of triumph and parades, or in its biblical origins as an image of the Apocalypse. But it also knows how to get the girls to dance!"

French president Nicolas Sarkozy hailed the memory of trumpeter Sunday, saying his life "is living proof that hard work and talent can do everything."

He added: "Maurice André managed to combine, in an incomparable manner, the highest artistic standards in a fierce desire to popularize the instrument beyond classical music to the widest audience."

More in:

Comments [14]

Bron Taylor from Seattle, WA

He worked in the mines for four years when young. He said that's where he got his stamina. Probably true. What a loss.

Feb. 12 2014 04:57 PM
Tim M from Portland, OR

Late news . . . Maurice Andre went to heaven . . and Gabriel graciously accepted the second chair position.

Oct. 07 2013 11:37 PM
Toby S from Los Angeles ca

I was introduced to Maurice Andre's playing as a student in college in the mid seventies. He was the epitome of perfection and integrity not only on the trumpet but on any instrument. I think I wore out the recordings I had of him.
There will never be another like him. He didn't set the standard he was the standard.

Mar. 29 2012 11:49 AM
Peter J Blume from Westchester, NY

Recently I read a wonderful comparison--stating that Maurice André was to the Classical Trumpet what Louis Armstrong was to the Jazz Trumpet. For sure he was an incredible virtuoso (who also pushed the boundaries of the Classical Trumpet) who was a great inspiration to me, & to many other trumpet players & students around the globe, including the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Phil Smith, Allison Balsom, etc--& he was a friend to many of the Jazz greats as well. There are some nice YouTube videos of him playing duets with Dizzy Gillespie; you can just see the mutual respect & admiration they had for each others' artistic abilities.

I was fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to meet Mr. André in 1988-- after a concert that he gave at the Gasteig in Munich. During the concert, he performed 3 concertos (Handel, Bellini & Hertel), & then for encores, he performed 3 MORE concertos--IN ENTIRITY!! (I don't recall which ones they were though). The only possible 'mistake' I remember hearing during that entire concert was maybe 1 missed note--& the note that he played instead, still fit the chord of where he was in that particular piece!

And as brilliant as he performed, he was just as humble & gracious when I met him in person. He spoke only in French (so we spoke through an interpreter) but gave willingly of his undivided attention & time, & was very supportive & encouraging with regards to my own playing.

I have a picture with him posted on my website & his concert program from that night (autographed &) framed on my practice room wall. It was an experience of a lifetime for me that I will never forget--& that I will surely to pass on to my own children someday; they are still young yet, but are already listening to & enjoying many of his beautiful recordings that we own.

My personal favorite of his is the L. Mozart Concerto--not the one with the Berlin Phil. Orch./Karajan (although that is very good as well)--but on a now out-of-print LP (Turnabout Vox TV-S 34529) entitled 'Baroque Trumpet Concerti' with the Chamber Orchestra of the North German Radio/Gabor Otvös. After not having listened to it for some 20+ years, I had it transferred to CD about a year ago; such a warm & sensitive recording...

He will be missed, but never forgotten.

Mar. 02 2012 12:56 PM
Andy S.

When I was a student in the '70's I saw him at Carnegie Hall -it was electric,amazing and perfect! Afterwards , I went backstage and met him--he was very encouraging, and so humble (and spoke only French) The greatest Trumpet virtuoso that has ever lived--very sad news.

Feb. 29 2012 11:40 PM
Lino Varano from Canada

Now he can be THE GREATEST in heaven!

Feb. 28 2012 05:30 PM

Send to Marildi

Feb. 27 2012 07:53 PM
Sophie S. from Washington, DC

The greatest interpreter ever on one of the most difficult instruments there is. Listening to him in Bellini's Norma brought tears to my eyes. Beyond a superhuman talent - Karajan famously commented that Andre came from another world - an extraordinarily jovial and likable man. Maurice, je vous ai manque sur cette terre, j'espere vous entendre un jour en Paradis.

Feb. 27 2012 03:44 PM
Sally Evans from Ossining, NY

I had the great good fortune to not only hear Monsieur Andre in concert but to meet him afterwards while a student at the Universuity of Maine. One of our faculty members, while teaching at the Mozarteum in Salzburg had made his acquaintance and invited Andre and we students to a gathering at his home. A truly delightful man, alas he spoke no English and my rudimentary French was hardly good enough to convey my priase and thanks, let alone converse with him. Rest in peace and blow, Gabriel, blow!

Feb. 27 2012 11:06 AM
DORIAN SCHWARTZ from Stony Brook, NY

I have loved the playing of Maurice Andre for forty years. After falling in love with the sound of the trumpet as a youth, I was stunned to hear it played with such ease, beauty and grace. In many recordings of Brandenburg 2 I had heard trumpet players miss, squeak and struggle to reach the high notes.
It amazed me that they would allow recordings like these to be made. I thought it was just an impossible piece until I heard Maurice Andre. There will never be another Maurice Andre.

Feb. 27 2012 09:58 AM
William H. Brown III from Chappaqua NY

Although I consider myself only a part time amateur these days, when I started playing the trumpet in the fourth grade my destiny was to be a professional soloist. Needless to say, my idol and aspiration was Maurice Andre. I bought every record (in those days there were only LPs!)of his and worked hard on every Baroque trumpet concerto I could find. Years and years later I have most of his CD recordings and try (emphasize try!) to play long with the Hummel and Haydn. Unfortunately I only saw him once in concert at Avery Fisher Hall. No mistakes, but when it came to announcing his encore he spoke only in French. We all still roared with applause before any of us knew what he would be playing. God bless and keep him.

Feb. 27 2012 09:50 AM
Vince T. from Wyckoff, NJ

The greatest trumpet player of all time. No one will ever be his equal. His performances were perfection. I saw him live many times and it was like listening to his recordings -- absolute genius and perfection.
That being said, I'll never forget being at Avery Fisher Hall around 1974. He was playing the Telemann 10 Heroic Marches and at about the 7th march he cracked (which was so rare that we couldn't believe our ears). He stopped playing and apologized to the audience. He was so embarrassed. He said that he was very sorry for his mistake and that he would start again. But he didn't start that one march again. He started from the beginning of all the marches. When it was over the audience stood and cheered. He gave us his gentle, modest smile and bowed to us, thanking the audience for their patience with him. That is just one example of the greatness of the man. He will never be forgotten. He has joined Gabriel's celestial choir. God bless him.

Feb. 26 2012 08:57 PM
Jason Appels from NYC

I have heard him for 30 years.
All the greats are vanishing, sob

Feb. 26 2012 07:38 PM
Laurie G.

My mom and I were so enchanted years ago when Mr. Andre graced the stage at the University of Massachusetts where I was a student at the time. I still remember his virtuoso playing. He will be missed!

Feb. 26 2012 05:30 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.


About WQXR Blog

Ignite your love of classical music every day with the articles published in the WQXR blog. Here you can find blogs about classical music, playlist selections, curated videos, and other features highlighting the joy of great music.