John Blanke, a successful black trumpeter under Henry VII and VII
February is Black History Month, and I wanted to feature black trumpeters this month. Black trumpeters are particularly under-represented in bands and orchestras, so I would like to start with a historic African trumpeter, who was successful in Tudor England.
Henry VII and VIII employed a black trumpeter named John Blanke. The speculation is that he came to England as one of the African attendants of Catherine of Aragon in 1501. He was paid 20 shillings a month and successfully petitioned Henry VIII for a raise with a confidently-penned letter. Henry VIII even sent John a wedding present when he later married.
Black trumpeters and drummers are recorded in other cities of the time. For instance, there was a black trumpeter on the royal ship Barcha in Naples in 1470, and a black trumpeter recorded as galley slave of Cosimo de’ Medici in 1555.
I made a quick search on Amazon for the top classical trumpet CD albums, by customer review. All of them are more than 10 years old, because CDs are an old, unpopular medium for music. Nevertheless, they are all excellent recordings, and people have liked them a lot. These are the best-reviewed classical trumpeters, who have made CD albums at the moment: