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Recommended methods and performance music for trumpet players of all levels.’s Interview with Gabriele Cassone

cassonegOne of the leading trumpet masters of Baroque, Classical and Contemporary music styles, Gabriele Cassone began his professional career at seventeen years old when he joined the Orchestra Pomeriggi Musicali in Milan Italy.

Mr. Cassone is featured on over twenty acclaimed compact disc recordings in repertoire spanning the centuries from the Baroque through the contemporary era. He is a professor at the Conservatory of Novara in Italy, and holds regular international master classes throughout Europe and in the United States. He is a guest professor at the Academy of S. Cecilia in Rome and author of La Tromba, a highly acclaimed text on the history and pedagogy of the trumpet.

Question: How did music enter your life and at which age did you start the trumpet? 

Gabriele Cassone: I started at the age of 10. My father tried to have me take an interest in soccer but nothing came of it and then in music with a friend of his who was a very good trumpeter. His friend had decided not to have a professional life as a musician, but his playing was still very musical and strong. He was capable of playing symphonic trumpet or even first trumpet in a big band. From him, I learned to love the trumpet and music.

Question: Where did you do your music studies and who were you teachers?

Gabriele Cassone: As I said earlier my first teacher was a not a professional trumpeter, but he was so good that he could have easily been a soloist. His name is Mario Catena, and he is still alive today, and I am always in contact with him. After my study with him, I continued in the conservatory in Milan. I started playing in the Orchestra Pomeriggi Musicali (Milan) at the age of 17. While there, I met and heard many fantastic players such as Armando Ghitalla, the Battagliola brothers of Radio Milan Orchestra, Giuseppe Bodana and Luciano Cadoppi of the La Scala Orchestra. Listening to those players was a great education for me. While there I also heard Pierre Thibaud and Maurice Murphy, the English Baroque Soloists, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and many other great ensembles. Listening to those concerts was a great education for me.

cassoneQuestion: As a student how did you go about your practice and music studies? How much did you practice everyday?

Gabriele Cassone: With my teacher I worked a lot with the classical Italian methods like Gatti, Peretti and Semproni, but I also worked a lot with the Arban book. I didn’t do any Stamp or mouthpiece buzzing at that time.

Question: Specifically, how do you go about your daily practice?

Gabriele Cassone: I like to think about Arnold Jacob’s suggestions. I have read quite a bit about his methodology and talked with people who have studied with him. The first thing that I think about is the importance of breathing and playing with a singing quality. So I think about playing exercises with a musical sound and musical phrasing. For me, I like Stamp, Thompson, Irons and Clarke a lot, which I find good for my sound in every register.

Question: What is your approach to warming up, what music do you play and how do you go about it?

Gabriele Cassone: For the warm up I like to play the mouthpiece and trumpet in the Thompson style and then some Clarke and Stamp and a few studies from the Irons book: 27 Groups of Exercises.

Question: Tell us about your practice routine.
Gabriele Cassone: I play the previously mentioned book of exercises and if I have more time I extend the practice from thirty minutes to one and a half hours. If on that particular day it feels like I need to work on my airflow, I do some additional breathing exercises.

Question: How do you prepare new or especially challenging pieces?

Gabriele Cassone: I do a good warm up and a lot of Clarke with the best quality sound and with good dynamics and flexibility.

Question: What kind of equipment—types of horns, mouthpieces etc. do you use?

Gabriele Cassone: I now play trumpets and flugelhorn by Courtois, cornet by Besson, and natural trumpets by Cristian Bosc.

Question: How do you prepare both musically and psychology for high profile performances?

rec_351Gabriele Cassone: After a good warm up, I play the piece slowly so as to not have technical problems. I also slow it down to understand what this piece is about for me and how I can “speak” to the audience with it. Every time I perform I try to be like an actor with a text, respecting the text of course, but giving the piece a specific personality. This must not be the same every day and better if I can change it.

Question: You have played and recorded in every classical style there is. Do you have to prepare differently for each style? If so how do you go about it?

Gabriele Cassone: I find it important to listen to the style of music performed on instruments other than the trumpet. If possible, it’s also important to work and play often with period orchestras in both the Classical and Baroque styles. I have had this opportunity many times and it has been very important for me. Also listening to a lot concerts and recording is very important. I find that it is important to work not only towards my own satisfaction, but also toward the satisfaction of those who listen to me. My concentration is to work for a sound that communicates many things. If I can imagine which kind of sound, phrasing and attacks that I need for the specific point of the music then I can be more expressive in every point of the piece. It is very important to listen to yourself as you’re playing and to focus on phrasing, sound quality, attacks and nuances. A piece needs to be imagined or conceived not only with the phrasing but also with it’s own type kind of sound, attack, and nuances.

Question: What‘s it like as a player to tour in so many different countries?

Gabriele Cassone: When I’m touring I don’t have much time to visit a lot but I like to meet people of different cultures and sensibilities. I appreciate the diversity and the I experiences I have had with the people I have met.

Question: What motivated you to write The Trumpet Book”?

Gabriele Cassone: The idea for the book was first proposed to me by one of the editor’s brothers, Paolo Zecchini, and I couldn’t believe it. I may of thought of a trumpet method before but never something like this. I was told that the book could have as many color photos as I wanted and no limitations to the contents. So I thought about how much material I had collected from my personal research on the baroque, ancient and contemporary trumpet as well as what I had accumulated from my teaching. I felt that I had something to write about. After it came out in Italian, a number of people told me that it would be great for them to have a version in English. So that motivated me to do the new version, the English version.

Question: Can you tell us about any other interests in your life?

Gabriele Cassone: I like a lot to read books that deal with “spiritual” issues like the works of Osho and Eckhart Tolle. I am also interested in meditation and yoga.

The_Trumpet_BookThe Trumpet Book
by Gabriele Cassone

The Trumpet Book, the English edition of the celebrated book La Tromba by Italian trumpet virtuoso Gabriele Cassone will debut at the 2009 International Trumpet Guild Conference (May 26-30 in Harrisburg, PA), where Cassone will be a featured soloist.

The Trumpet is now available from