Maurice André: Trumpeter loved by both critics and public

He said modern classical music reminded him of the sounds he used to hear going down the mines

Maurice André did for the trumpet what Segovia did for the guitar, bringing the instrument from its humble origins into both the classical mainstream and popular culture. It had a parallel in his own life: he spent five years down the pits before escaping to music school. The trumpet demands perhaps more physical strength than any other instrument; André attributed his own resilience to those five years at the coal-face, "moving 17 tons of coal a day".

The importance of André's example is difficult to exaggerate. Paul Archibald, former professor of trumpet at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music, said: "The impact and influence that he had on generations of trumpeters was monumental. He defined the art of solo trumpet playing with his beautifully refined phrasing and his effortless technique." But as well as setting standards for the musicians who were to follow him, André enjoyed a huge popular following, appealing to listeners of every stripe and hue, and crossing musical boundaries with ease.

André was born to the trumpet: his miner father played it, in the colliery band, and for local events. Maurice had two years of school solfège before, aged 12, he began to play the cornet, which his father had won as a prize. He made startlingly swift progress, soon appearing alongside his father, who sent him for lessons with a friend, Léon Barthélémy, a teacher at the Conservatoire in Nîmes. André continued to work in the mines until a near-fatal accident forced him to take time off work – time he used with religious devotion, practising for three hours every morning.

Barthélémy suggested his student join the band of the Eighth Régiment des Transmissions at Mont-Valérien, and it was as a military musician that, at 18, André began studying at the Conservatoire de Paris – though playing in uniform and living in barracks. His principal teacher there, Raymond Sabarich, was demanding and uncompromising, even thumping André when he played a wrong note. The unconventional approach worked: after six months André won the Premier Prix d'Honneur for the cornet and the Premier Prix for the trumpet a year later.

To begin with, there was little demand for a trumpet soloist, and André had to settle for orchestral positions, playing with the Orchestre Lamoureux and the Orchestre Philharmonique de la Radio France, and thereafter with the Opéra-Comique. He also played in night clubs and theatres, but his breakthrough came in 1955 when, asked to join the jury of a music competition in Geneva, he chose instead to appear as a competitor, walking away with first prize.

He was soon making records, many for Erato. He notched up some 300 recordings, and enlarged the trumpet repertoire by raiding those of other instruments. One recording – of Vivaldi concertos with the Berlin Philharmonic and Herbert von Karajan – sold 1.5m copies but got off to a shaky start: when André got a call from Karajan's assistant, he assumed it was a friend winding him up.

It was with Baroque music that he made his reputation: two signature performances were of the Second of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and the "Badinerie" from the Second Orchestral Suite. He played the high piccolo trumpet with an ease and elegance that astonished – it looked incongruous in his fleshy hands and applied to his round face beneath a thatch of white hair and two bushy black eyebrows. He looked cuddly, approachable, and the TV appearances that began in 1980 brought him an even larger public.

Although André joked that contemporary music reminded him of the noises he used to hear down the mine, composers were hardly going to leave such a resource unexploited, and Boris Blacher, André Jolivet, Jean Langlais and Henri Tomasi were among those who wrote for him.

With the work ethic he had learned as a youth, he had gruelling schedules, averaging 180 concerts a year at his busiest, in the 1970s. But concerts were a family affair: André's manager was his wife, Liliane, and he often appeared with his brother, Raymond, also a trumpeter, and later with his son, Nicolas, another trumpeter, and daughter Béatrice, an oboist. From 1967-78 he was a professor at the Conservatoire de Paris; his memoir Le Soleil Doit Pouvoir Briller pour Tout le Monde ("The Sun Should Shine for Everybody") appeared in 2007.

André put the length of his career down to the fact that he had never strained to play and so didn't tire his lips. He settled in the Basque country in the early 1990s and, though supposedly taking life easier, continued to practise for four or five hours a day, finding time also for painting and wood-carving. His farewell concert was in Béziers in 2008: he should have retired earlier, he explained, but some work on his teeth allowed him to keep going.

For Paul Archibald, the trumpet "was part of him and he sang with an intensity that was pure heart and soul ... He was much more than an instrumentalist. His musical personality was natural, honest and sincere and the integrity of his playing is an example to any musician."

Maurice André, trumpeter: born Rochebelle, Cévennes 21 May 1933; married 1956 (one son, one daughter); died Urrugne, Bayonne 25 February 2012.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little