The Influence of Virtuosity and Nationalism in Alexander Arutunian’s Trumpet Concerto in Ab Major (1950)

Level of Education of Students Involved


Faculty Sponsor

Katharina Uhde


Arts and Sciences



ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-27-2023


Alexander Arutunian's Trumpet Concerto in Ab Major is a milestone in modern solo trumpet repertoire. A dialogue between the trumpet and accompaniment, whether that's a piano or orchestra, Arutunian's work offers a remarkable display of virtuosic showmanship, demonstrating various technical aspects of trumpet playing. While many studies have been conducted, some around virtuosity, more research is needed to determine the nature of Arutunian's unique blend of virtuosity and nationalism, deriving from his Soviet-Armenian roots. To fill some gaps in Arutunian scholarship, my research uses historical, cultural, biographical, and music-analytical modes of investigation. In rondo form, Arutunian's concerto features an introduction, distinct A, B, and C sections, and a detailed conclusion. I contextualize these and other elements of Arutunian's concerto in light of virtuosity and nationalism, highlighting the shifting key, the progression of harmonies, the union of articulations and tempo, and the dynamic shaping. Authors Deborah Caldwell (2015) and Stephen Craig Garrett (1984) have provided analyses of various solo trumpet works, including Alexander Arutunian's concerto, making note of its various elements that contribute to the piece's virtuosity. Scholars Robert Doran (2020) and Susan Bernstein (1998), furthermore, have extensively researched the origins of virtuosity and how it influenced composing. I discuss how Alexander Arutunian went about composing a virtuosic piece with a more personal style enhanced with a sense of nationalism, thereby offering a deeper understanding of how 20th-century composers navigated between composing in established genres and styles and rethinking those; and between writing for virtuoso performers and acknowledging their national roots.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Graham Butler is an undergraduate senior at Valparaiso University. He will be graduating in May 2023 with a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Computer Science and Music, and working in software development upon graduating while remaining active in music through performing and giving lessons. As a trumpet player, Graham was inspired to analyze one of the most famous pieces of modern solo trumpet literature, curious about what influenced the composer when writing this piece.

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