Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Blame the BSO
Back in the 60s as an eager junior high/high school student, I was still tuning in to "Leave it to Beaver" and "Father Knows Best". I was quickly transitioning into a trumpet geek however. Blame the BSO among others. What a thrill to catch the Boston Symphony TV broadcasts from Symphony Hall! Each concert was an event. Compared to the high-tech polished productions of today, those black and white shows were pretty basic with only a few simple camera shots of each section. Even so, there was fire coming into our New Jersey home as the trumpet section took their turns in the spotlight. Voisin, Ghitalla and the guys were awesome. They say Mager who preceded them was something else. I often wondered if there had been a musical personality gauge on stage when those guys had auditioned. Something like a Geiger counter, or a seismograph ready to sense some radiant presence! "Maestro, this guy is off the charts! . . . Great, higher him! That's what we're looking for!"
As a mild-mannered quiet boy from suburban New Jersey, these pros from Boston blew me away and woke me up to the world of the symphony orchestra. I was full of imagination and ripe for hero-worship. The BSO trumpets were packed with pizazz, bursting with energy, and just plain looking for a musical fight with any section who would dare to take them on! That was how I saw it anyway. They reminded me of bumper cars at the carnival, belligerantly elbowing everyone else out of the way, and driving wherever they pleased. It seemed like they could make the instrument actually talk, squalk, and when called for, even bark out the notes into the hall in their distinctive angry fashion. During one extreme close-up of the trumpets, I was sure I could see flames and fierce-looking faces etched on the sides of their bells. It had been noted that smoke vapors could at times be seen emanating from the end of their horns! Wow!
I don't care if it was a Brahms symphony or a Mozart overture, it was never boring. In my view, this was more exciting than going to see the Yankees play. And those were the days of Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Roger Maris, and company. I had every one of those bubble gum cards! Too bad orchestras don't sell bubble gum cards of their players! If I were manager of the BSO back then, why we'd have great action poses of the brass heroes on every bubble gum card, extra bubble gum for the brass cards, and free bazooka bubble gum trumpet mouthpieces for all the students who attended . . . and. . . .
"Phil, time to get up. You'll be late to school!"