Berlin Philharmonic starts with new principal trumpet

Berlin Philharmonic starts with new principal trumpet


norman lebrecht

September 19, 2018

Guillaume Jehl has been upgraded from 2nd trumpet to principal in the Berlin Philharmonic. He replaces Tamas Velenczei, who moves down to 2nd or 3rd.

The move was announced in April.

Jehl is the former solo trumpet of the Basel Symphony Orchestra (2001-6) and the National Orchestra of France (2006-9).


  • Wai kit leung says:

    Does he play on a German trumpet while on orchestra duty?

  • Sue says:

    Oh, blow Gabriel blow!!! (Cole Porter)

  • MacroV says:

    Of course he’d play a rotary-valve trumpet, but I’m sure he can play both. I was amused a couple years to see Gabor Tarkovi playing a piston trumpet on a “late-night” program; I think they were playing Rhapsody in Blue. These guys are flexible.

  • Ernest Robles says:

    I have always enjoyed Velenczei’s playing. But, he has one of the strangest embouchures I’ve seen on a trumpeter. He seems to be playing off center from his lips. Whatever works of course.

    • Max Grimm says:

      Tamás Velenczei does play off center from his lips. He said that he did so right from the start (he thinks it’s because his teeth aren’t even) and although he was told to play with the mouthpiece in the center of his lips by a teacher, it ended up sliding left of center every time. So he stuck with it.
      Mathias Schmutzler, one of the Principal Trumpets of the Staatskapelle Dresden, has a similarly unusual embouchure.

    • Alan says:

      I seem to recall a story that Adolph “Bud” Herseth, trumpeter supremo with the Chicago Symphony, played off-center because he was in a car smash-up and his mouth hit the steering wheel.
      Anyone out there who might confirm or deny?

      • Max Grimm says:

        From ‘Appreciating A Pillar Of The Chicago Sound: Trumpeter Bud Herseth’…
        “[A]s Minneapolis Public Radio’s John Birge noted at the time of Herseth’s last CSO performance, he almost had to quit four years in, after a bad automobile accident. His broken teeth cut through his lower lip, […] from which he suffered permanent nerve damage. After a few months’ recuperation in which he essentially had to relearn how to play, he was back onstage […]”

  • MacroV says:

    Interesing Berlin Phil trumpet rotation: Martin Kretzer was principal for 33 years, I think (about 1970-2003?), then moved to 2nd. Tamás Velenczei joined (1989?) as 2nd trumpet, then replaced Kretzer as principal. So you can see old videos in reversed roles. Then Jehl joined (2010?) as second, now becomes principal, replacing Velenczei, who I assume is replacing Kretzer, who would seem to be close to retirement.

    • Axl says:

      I’m sorry Macrov but that isn’t true! Martin Kretzer was principal from 1973-2004 and Gábor Tarkövi replaced him in 2004. At the time, Kretzer moved to 2nd/3rd trumpet, whitch was held before by Robert (Bob) Platt until his retirement.
      Tamás replaced Konradin Groth (principal from 1974-1998) in 2000. He has never been 2nd trumpet in BPO until now.
      Guillaume comes BPO as 2nd trumpet in 2009 and he’s predecessor was Thomas Clamor. And in this season he replaced Tamás, who’s now replaced Kretzer as 2nd/3rd trumpet.

      • MacroV says:

        I stand corrected; though I could have sworn I read at some point that he had joined as 2nd (or not principal, anyway), and that I’ve seen him play 2nd to Kretzer on 1st in Abbado-era videos.

        • Trumpet schagerl says:

          And as far as I know, Guillaume Jehl was in the final of the audition for principal Trumpet. But in early 2000s Gabor Tarkövi got the Job. Tarkövi played for one year in 2 Orchestras in Berlin and munic. Due to the retirement of the Formel principal Trumpet Martin Kretzer, there is still one position open. In this Season there are only 4 trumpets including Tarkövi jehl aß principal and vlazcni ans schoch in 2 and 3. An audition for the 3rd 2nd trumpet Position isn’t scheduled

          • Axl says:

            Yes! You’re right! When Gábor Tarkövi gets a job in 2004, Guillaume Jehl was in finals at the same audition and placed third. The second in that audition was Jeroen Berwaerts. And true, in 2004-2005 season Gábor share his time in BPO and Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks (BRSO), where he was appointed principal in 1998. Watch this interesting interview of Gábor! The same things were told there:

        • Max Grimm says:

          “…I could have sworn […] that I’ve seen him play 2nd to Kretzer on 1st in Abbado-era videos.”

          While it’s a bit of a stretch, it may be that you mistook a young Thomas Clamor for Velenczei.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    Personally I love how the BPO works their career rotation. The second was and is qualified to play 1st and the 1st knows when it is time to move down into the section and then to retire with dignity.

    Kudos to the entire section for making this work and to the BPO for showing a model that American orchestras should consider adopting.

    • Robert Holmén says:

      If you watch the rosters of American orchestras you can see that someone stepping down to a less demanding place in the section it not unknown. Sometimes they even get an “emeritus” for doing it.

  • Shalom Rackovsky says:

    The late, legendary Armando Ghitalla stepped down from Principal to section in the Boston Symphony many years ago.

    • Tom S. says:

      Shalom, your information about Armando Ghitalla is incorrect. He retired as Principal Trumpet at the end of the season in 1979. I was his student at NEC at the time. However, after over a decade as 3rd/asst.1st, he became Principal in 1963 when Roger Voisin moved down in the section.

      • Shalom Rackovsky says:

        I’m sure you are correct- I was probably trying to remember that Voisin moved down. The BSO section at that time was an absolutely wonderful trumpet section- as is the Berlin Philharmonic section. Anyone who wants to hear a spectacular sample of Velenczei’s playing should watch the performance of the Mahler 3 with Simon Rattle from 2011 in the Digital Concert Hall. The entire performance needs to be heard to be believed, but Tamas’ performance of the offstage posthorn solo is just wonderful.

  • Wai Kit Leung says:

    Excuse my ignorance again: is it relatively easy to switch between a French trumpet and a German trumpet?

    • Paul Johnston says:

      A good question. In this instance, Jehl has already been playing in the Phil. In any case, nowadays trumpeters at this level—actually, even at conservatories such as the one where I teach—have experience on both piston- and rotary-valve trumpets. So, they can navigate the differences reasonably well, even within a single concert, let alone moving to a new orchestra. Plus, while not entirely lacking in diversity, orchestral trumpet sound today has nowhere near the regional distinctions one could discern only 35-40 years ago. Jehl and the quite international BPO will be fine with this promotion from within.

  • Tpt. says:

    Easy – we all do it!