Famous Orchestral Personalities of Yesteryear: John Solomons, trumpeter

John Solomons, Trumpeter
It was in the late 1940’s.  The London Symphony Orchestra asked me to play with them at the Royal Albert Hall, London,  in a performance of “Israel in Egypt”.  Sir Malcolm Sargent was conducting and the Royal Choral Society was singing.

Sargent was at his best when conducting choral music and I was looking forward to playing the engagement.  At the morning rehearsal we had arrived at the Plague Choruses and Sargent noticed that we were all anxious to have the intermission and a cup of coffee so we all trooped off stage and as I was exiting I noticed a well dressed old gentleman surrounded by a large group of the older players in the orchestra. I enquired of his name and was told Jack Solomons, and that he was over ninety years of age, although he did not look it. In his day  he was reckoned to be the best trumpeter in the country.  He could play all the exacting Bach stuff well, but his tour de force was the trumpet obbligato in “The Trumpet Shall Sound” from Handel’s “Messiah”.

He would arrive at the concert dressed immaculately, sporting a large diamond ring on his right hand, clutching a long ‘D’ trumpet.  He always brought the house down. In his day there were many choral societies scattered round Great Britain and Jack was always sent for to play the “Trumpet Shall Sound ” whenever it was on the programme so he must have made a killing with all those fees.  The long ‘D’ trumpet seems to have gone out of fashion now, but I have to admit I liked the sound and also it looked so dramatic

There is a moral to be drawn from this, especially by some of our younger players.  My teacher and mentor, Eugene Cruft, always drummed it into me that it was not only necessary to build up a good playing technique but also to present oneself on stage with a good air and presence, looking confident and well groomed. He was right!