It’s witchcraft I tell you…

Robert L. Barclay is a Canadian instrument conservator, restorer and researcher, who literally wrote the book on instrument conservation.

While the printed version of the book isn’t very cheap, the full text is available for free on the site of the “International Committee
for Museums and Collections of Musical Instruments


It’s less known that he also makes copies of historical trumpets. As someone who works with wood al the time, this metalwork is like witchcraft to me.

To turn this:

Into a working instrument like this:

Here is a short video (in two parts) on one of his workshops. The craftsmanship involved in making these brass wonders is astonishing.

It seems very rough in the beginning, when the tubes are formed and soldered together. But look how the subtile the brass is shaped, bended and polished in the end.

In 2008 I had the privilege to hear the Belgian “La Petite Bande” of Sigiswald Kuijken perform Bachs’ Brandenburger Concerto no.2, with Jean-François Madeuf playing one of these trumpets. As our musical history teacher took our class to the rehearsals. It rocked my outlook on historical performance. Without valves, entirely on natural tones it sounds a bit ‘rustic’ to our ears. But it’s a tour de force for the player and adds some visual fireworks to the whole band…

This entry was posted in Documentary, History, Research, Tools, Uncategorized, Workshop and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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