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Trumpets Weird, and Wonderful

By Jeff Nussbaum

Recently, several brass experts took an organological outing to visit the exhibition "Trumpets, Weird and Wonderful: Treasures from the National Music Museum " at the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ, on view until March 17, 2019. The entourage included Bradley Strauchen-Scherer, curator of musical instruments at The Metropolitan Museum; Herbert Heyde, retired curator of musical instruments at The Met; Frank Hosticka, classical trumpet player and Associate Musician with the Metropolitan Opera; and Jeff Nussbaum, president of the Historic Brass Society.

The wonderful exhibition was curated by Sabine Klaus, curator of the Utley Collection. It showcases some of the most wonderful and, yes, weird, trumpets from the Joe and Joella Utley Collection. The exhibition displays a wide range of trumpets ranging from shofar, conch-shell trumpets and many other non-Western instruments through to unusual jazzophones and other more contemporary trumpets.

On display were a natural trumpet by Haas and another by Kodisch and they certainly represent materpieces of the trumpet maker’s art. Unusual and transitional instruments with mixed valve systems were on display along with a number of keyed bugles and beautiful cornets.

Many of the instruments were recorded and video clips were on display, the same videos that accompany Sabine Klaus’s masterful book series which is now at volume three. Also a special treat was a video clip of Robert Barclay’s Trumpet Making Workshop, showing the many steps it takes a maker to make a natural trumpet using historical methods.

The Morris Museum also has a permanent exhibition, the Murtogh Guinness Collection of historic mechanical instruments and automata. This display shows many mechanical instruments that brought music to the masses centuries before You Tube! Two wonderful exhibitions well worth a trip to Morristown.

Pictured L-R: Bradley Strauchen-Scherer, Herbert Heyde, Jeff Nussbaum, and Frank Hosticka


Jeffrey Nussbaum lives in New York City and is the president and founder of the Historic Brass Society


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