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Sonata for Trumpet and Piano

Sonata for Trumpet and Piano

Lathan, Mark


  • Ensemble: Trumpet and Piano
  • Genre: Modern Classical
  • Grade: 5
  • Duration: 15.5 minutes
  • Catalog Number: AOS284

Mark Lathan's Trumpet Sonata is a fresh sounding, musically satisfying piece for audience and performers alike. This piece is a nice alternative to some of the more over-programmed selections in the modern repertoire and can surely be the center piece of a trumpet major's recital.

I. Allegro energico
II. Lento doloroso
III. Allegro con brio

The recording that accompanies the ScoreFlipper playback features Mark Baldin, trumpet and Jon Warfel, piano.

The composer writes..."

The Trumpet Sonata, like much of my music, reflects some important events in my own life. It was composed between winter 1991 and summer 1993. The first movement was composed while I was still living in the Chicago area, but the second and third movements were finished in Los Angeles after my relocation there in 1992. Music composed in this form is generally designed to reflect changes in mood, but the changes heard here are intended to go beyond sonic satisfaction in the abstract. They truly reflect some significant changes in my own life.

The first movement progresses in traditional sonata form: there are two contrasting themes, followed by a development, and closing again with a slightly new take on each of those same two themes. While the Trumpet Sonata is very much a tonal piece, the introduction in the piano is in fact a 12-tone row. I’ve always been intrigued with the use of 12-tone techniques in a tonal context – since they were originally designed to create atonal music – so I use this tone row as a unifying element throughout the entire piece.

Being a reflective person myself, I particularly enjoy composing in the subdued mood which characterizes the Sonata’s second movement. You might think of this as musical accompaniment to a moment spent outdoors at night, maybe in a forest or on a mountainside, where the stars are clearly visible. Here I contemplate life: where it has been, where it is now, and where it may be going.

The third movement is some of the most exuberant music I’ve written to date. It takes off immediately and sends the listener on a fast ride with a very hopeful conclusion. Both piano and trumpet are called on here to execute some quick maneuvers. The trumpet makes a final cadential statement before both performers bring the piece to a swift and decisive close.

Review by Brian Walker published in the International Trumpet Guild Journal Volume 37, No. 4, Page, 84

Mark Lathan, trumpeter and composer, has established a career encompassing performing and composing in various styles from classical to jazz to film.  He has received acclaim for his compositions including the coveted Henry Mancini Award in Film Composition. The current composition of focus is his Sonata for Trumpet and Piano, the third addition to the trumpet repertoire, joining Song for Trumpet and his Trumpet Concerto, which was premiered by Mark Baldin and the Rockford Symphony as a part of their 75th Anniversary Season Celebration.

This sonata features three movements that are tonal in the context of twentieth- and twenty first-century trumpet writing and is very reminiscent of the trumpet sonatas of Antheil and Dello Joio.  Lathan writes about the composition: “While the Trumpet Sonata is very much a tonal piece, the introduction in the piano is in fact a twelve-tone row. I've always been intrigued with the use of twelve-tone techniques in a tonal context—since they were originally designed to create atonal music—so I use this tone row as a unifying element through- out the entire piece.”

The first movement (Allegro energico) features a great deal of excitement and interplay between the two instruments and the trumpet is featured with an extended cadenza at the close of the sprightly movement. The second movement (Lento doloroso) is more subdued and serene in quality and provides a welcomed contrast to the spirited first movement. The final movement (Allegro con brio) is a vivacious return to the spirit of the opening movement. Lathan describes the movement as “some of the most exuberant music I've written to date.” The total duration of the piece is fifteen and a half minutes.

Trumpeters will find a handful of obstacles to overcome in preparation of this composition. There are several considerable technical passages in the faster movements. Lathan uses the full range of the trumpet (a to d"', notated in B-fiat) with several of these higher range requirements being found in long passages and in places requiring an extended amount of endurance. For example, the last note of the composition ends on a high d"'. In addition to the aforementioned requirements, duos wishing to perform this composition should schedule plenty of rehearsal time as both instruments are used equally and have timing and ensemble issues to navigate.

Regardless of these issues, those who face these challenges will find this piece to be rewarding musically. It is very effective and would program well in various settings.

Interested parties can find this composition online (, where a recording and the useful ScoreFlipper tool is found, as well as other trumpet compositions of Mark Lathan.

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