Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Instrumental Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Craig Morris

Second Committee Member

Timothy Conner

Third Committee Member

Gary Green

Fourth Committee Member

Sam Pilafian

Fifth Committee Member

Deborah Schwartz-Kates


The purpose of this study is to create a performance guide for the challenging trumpet parts found within the orchestral works of John Coolidge Adams. Because Adams’s music has found a place in today’s standard orchestral repertoire, as well as on some principal trumpet audition lists, it is important for contemporary trumpet players to recognize the intricacies, innovations, and difficulties encountered within his trumpet music. The historical, theoretical, and performance elements of Adams’s trumpet writing are analyzed, with the objective of developing a clear understanding of how to approach and interpret Adams’s trumpet music. This study presents an overview of the trumpet parts found in Adams’s music from 1979-2013, highlighting the characteristics of his style of trumpet writing. Eight of Adams’s most challenging trumpet parts were selected for in-depth examination. This essay presents background information, performance considerations, and practice recommendations for Harmonielehre (1985), Tromba lontana (1985), Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986), The Wound-Dresser (1988), On the Transmigration of Souls (2002), My Father Knew Charles Ives (2003), Doctor Atomic Symphony (2007), and City Noir (2009). This document also includes an appendix listing all of the required mutes, as well as the trumpet ranges for each Adams composition. This essay advances the study and awareness of Adams’s entire oeuvre and its trumpet parts.


trumpet; orchestral excerpts; John Adams; trumpet excerpts; band music; orchestra music