From jazz to fanfares, concertos to brass band music the trumpet is a versatile instrument - capable of extreme contrasts, and striking mood swings, from the softest lullaby to sudden violent outbursts.


We take a look at some of the world's greatest trumpeters from the modern era

Famous trumpet players

Håkan Hardenberger

(Swedish; b1961)

A former teacher of Alison Balsom and, alongside Dizzy Gillespie, Hardenberger has led the way as a performer and commissioner of contemporary repertoire – Harrison Birtwistle’s concerto Endless Parade was one of many works written for him. Never afraid to push the instrument to its limits, his amazing technical ability is coupled with a beautiful sound.

Dizzy Gillespie

(US; 1917-93)

One of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time and, given the influence that jazz technique itself has had on modern classical trumpet playing and composition, a significant figure there too. Hugely important in the development of bebop and Afro-Cuban jazz, Dizzy Gillespie’s bright, fast, virtuosic and largely clean sound contrasted with the darker hues of jazz greats such as Miles Davis who followed soon after.

Maurice André

(French; b1933)

Specialising in baroque music, André significantly expanded the trumpet repertoire by researching and performing works that had previously been gathering dust, arranging and transcribing where necessary. He almost single-handedly brought the piccolo trumpet to popularity and, over the course of his career, made a very large number of recordings, mainly on the French Erato label.

Wynton Marsalis

(American; b1961)

Described as ‘potentially the greatest trumpeter of all time’ by Maurice André, Wynton Marsalis holds the unique distinction of having won Grammy awards in both classical and jazz categories. His playing, in whatever genre, is marked by dazzling technique and sumptuous beauty of tone and, as a composer and improviser, he is rarely short of inventive brilliance.

Sergei Nakariakov

(Russian; b1977)

Nakariakov first made his mark on the classical music world with an acclaimed recording of Waxman’s Carmen Fantasy at the age of 17. The technique which earned him the slightly burdensome tag of ‘Paganini of the Trumpet’ in those early years is founded not just on nimble finger work, but also a circular breathing system that allows him to manage the longest phrases with apparently minimal effort.


Main image: Wynton Marsalis playing trumpet © Getty Images