Keyed Trumpet by August Wolf
This keyed trumpet, from the collection of Boston trumpeter Chris Belluscio, was made in Prague by August Wolf sometime between 1821 and 1867, the span of years that we know that this maker was active. It was most likely made before the early 1840s, when this type of trumpet was popular in that region. Having only four keys might indicate a fairly early date, although like with the seventh key on bugles, the fifth key may not be reliably used to date an instrument. This trumpet had a fifth key added at some time, but the placement required the use of the right hand in an unusual and somewhat awkward position. The fifth key on this style of keyed trumpet would have been mounted on a diagonal brace similar to that of the forth key. It was decided to eliminate this key to preserve its original form.
Most trumpet players know that the two great classical trumpet concertos were written to be played on the keyed trumpet by Joseph Haydn and Johann Nepomuk Hummel in 1796 and 1803 respectively. Those earlier keyed trumpets may have been very similar to this example. My knowledge of keyed trumpets and their history is very limited and I would recommend further reading of those that have made a study of this subject. Sabine Klaus' "Trumpets and other High Brass, Volume 2" is the best source on the trumpets and two articles published in Historic Brass Society Journal, volumes 26 and 27, written by Bryan Proksch, are the latest scholarship on early keyed trumpet literature. There are a number of high quality performances keyed trumpets in recent recordings, including on Youtube. Some of these are on modern versions with as many as eight keys.
Without crooks, this trumpet is pitched in modern G. It survived without any crooks or bits, so Chris decided to have me make them for F, E and Eb. It can also be played in D by combining the F and Eb crooks and Db by combining the E and Eb crooks and all three will bring it to C, if needed. Adding the bits, as needed, compensates for the sharpened pitch, caused by combining the crooks.
This trumpet had been restored previously, but was not playable as found and likely not immediately after that restoration. It was certainly never used for performance in modern times, but with increased interest in more accurate performances of historical compositions, it was desirable to make this playable again. As can be seen in the last three photos to the left, this trumpet has had a very hard life, but we are lucky that, other than the crooks, it is largely intact. When complete, this was quite a good player as a natural trumpet. I tried the keys a bit, but have no knowledge of the fingerings. I'll leave that to Mr. Belluscio and his remarkable skills.