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
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
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

Maths Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Project Manager (infrastructure, upgrades, rollouts)

£38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments