Joseph Jean Baptist Laurent Arban (28 February 1825 – 9 April 1889) was a cornetist, conductor, pedagogue and the first famed virtuoso of the cornet à piston or valved cornet.
He was influenced by Niccolò Paganini’s virtuosic technique on the violin and in an (arguably successful) attempt to “prove” the cornet as a true solo instrument, developed extreme virtuosic technique on the instrument.
Born in Lyon, France, he studied trumpet with Francois Dauverné at the Paris Conservatoire from 1841 to 1845. He was appointed professor of saxhorn at the École Militaire in 1857, and became professor of cornet at the Paris Conservatoire in 1869, where Merri Franquin was among his students. He published his Grande méthode complète pour cornet à pistons et de saxhorn in Paris in 1864. This method, which is often referred to as the “Trumpeter’s Bible,” is still studied by modern brass players. His variations on The Carnival of Venice remains one of the great showpieces for cornet soloists today.
Arban apparently made a phonograph cylinder recording for the Edison Company shortly before his death. In a newspaper from Finland, Helsinki’s Hufvudstadsbladet, (no. 96, from 11.4.1890, page 2), Arban’s recording is mentioned:
Among the phonograms a particular one must be mentioned: solo on cornet a piston, played by the famous French virtuoso monsieur Arban called “Fanfare d’Edison;”
Arban died in Paris on April 9, 1889.
Free Sheet Music
in 3 keys:
A playalong of “Carnival of Venice” as played by Harry James in 1941: