Antique Violences

From Wind Repertory Project
John Mackey

John Mackey

Subtitle: Concerto for Trumpet

General Info

Year: 2017
Duration: VII (solo) c. 20:27
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Osti Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - Rental   |   Score Only (print) - $95.00


1. The Blooded Lines - 4:25
2. Secrets' Teeth - 4:45
3. Sorrow Is a Blade - 6:20
4. The Curtain Calls - 3:55


Full Score
Solo Trumpet (Bb Piccolo Trumpet, Bb Trumpet, C Trumpet, Eb Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Flute I-II-III
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet I-II
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
C Trumpet I-II-III
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Double Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V-VI, including:

  • Bass Drums (small and large)
  • Cymbals (crash, 4 suspended)
  • Field Drum
  • Marimba
  • Pitched Gongs (D3, D4)
  • Snare Drum
  • Tam-tam
  • Tambourine
  • Tom-toms
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The title comes from a line in Rickey Laurentiis’s Writing an Elegy and reminds us that where there are humans, there is violence. So it is, so it has ever been. The concerto notes that, curiously, the trumpet and its cousins always call the bloody tune -- so each movement considers a kind of violence through the lens of a historical style of music closely associated with the trumpet.

The structure of our social world is born, and reborn, in the mass violence of war; borders are made of blood. The first movement thus recalls wars ancient and modern, noble and notorious. The fife and drum music of the American Revolution is pitted against a vaguely Middle Eastern melody, evoking the purported existential clash of civilizations that has been the stepping stone to power for kings and charlatans from the Crusades to the present day.

The spark of war also burns in the hearth of the drawing room. So the second movement captures the intimate violence we do on a smaller scale, with words as weapons and armored smiles. The music begins in a decadent French Baroque style, then unravels its shimmering threads to reveal the barbarism beneath. Sophistication is only ever a mask.

Because the aftermath of violence wounds in another way, the third movement pauses in the sharp, dark chasm of mourning. The music returns to touchstones of Americana -- now in the style of the middle of the twentieth century -- as the setting moves to a military funeral, where glory’s price is paid by those who will never see its light.

But grief turns to anger, and the cycle continues. So the fourth movement is a remix, revisiting the materials of the other three, but at a distance, inviting us to reflect on violence’s status as our perpetual favorite entertainment, the uses and misuses of nostalgia, and just why it might be that trumpets mean trouble.

- Program Note by A.E. Jaques


  • Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2018, winner


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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  • John Mackey, on-stage remarks at pre-premiere performance, 4 December 2016.
  • Perusal score