2013-09-15 Notes from the Bench

“Trumpet Tune in A”  by David Johnson

A commentary on this week’s music by Dr. James T. Gerber, Music Associate

Organ works of the “trumpet tune” genre are most frequently written by English or American composers, either as stand-alone pieces, or as a movement of a suite, and utilize the trumpet stops of the instrument. A trumpet tune may be an arrangement of a piece originally written for trumpet and keyboard, or vice versa, the adaptation of a solo keyboard work to include trumpet. Trumpet tunes have been written since the seventeenth century and played during various ceremonial events; Henry Purcell, Jeremiah Clark, and John Stanley composed some of the bestknown examples. During the twentieth century, numerous composers, including David Johnson, have written trumpet tunes and usually imitate the form and style of works written during the seventeenth century.



David N. Johnson (1922-1987) was an American composer, organist, and educator who taught organ at Arizona State University from 1969 until 1981, and was the organist and choirmaster at Trinity Cathedral. Prior to moving to Arizona, Dr. Johnson held teaching positions at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY and St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Dr. Johnson studied music at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, PA, Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, and Syracuse University, where he earned MMus and PhD degrees. He also served our country in the U.S. Army Signal Corps/Air Corps in India, Burma, and China, from 1942-1946, receiving the Meritorious Service Award.

Dr. Johnson published over three hundred compositions, the majority being suitable for liturgical use. Among his solo organ works are settings of chorales, chants, and hymn tunes, and numerous trumpet tunes; “Trumpet Tune in A,” an outstanding example of this type of piece.

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