Tag Archives: Lowell History

The Mystery of the Lowell Trumpet

Double piston valve trumpets created by Leopold Uhlmann

Two eerily similar double piston valve trumpets (photo credits: left – Linda McCluskey, right – Robb Stewart)

Parisian artist Linda McCluskey (formerly of Chelmsford) came upon the trumpet on the left in a music museum in Seborga, Italy (MAP). At first glance, the information on the card doesn’t correlate with historical documentation covering the brisk advancements and innovations in brass instrument technologies developed during the early to mid-nineteenth century.

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Did American Nathan Adams make a double piston valve trumpet in 1820?

The card in the photo at right states that in 1820, Nathan Adams made an orchestral trumpet with double piston valves and several tuning crooks. 

First, at the time this instrument was reportedly made, Lowell was still East Chelmsford and for the most part farmland. Lowell wasn’t incorporated as a town until 1826, so the oddly shaped trumpet couldn’t have been made in 1820 in “Lowell, Massachusetts.”

Second, the trumpets depicted in the photos above are strikingly similar. Both are double piston “Vienna valve” instruments with tuning crooks.

Third, Leopold Uhlmann of Vienna received a “patent” on the “Vienna valve” in 1830, but this particular valve was invented (also in Vienna) in about 1822 by a man named J. F Riedl. The tuning crooks were designed for orchestral instruments. They’re rare and have profound historical significance.

If you’re a serious student of the history of brass instruments, you can understand the dilemma. The card claims the instrument was made by an American in 1820 … two years before it was supposedly invented by a Viennese instrument maker!

As the industrial revolution went global at the turn of the nineteenth century, there was a frenzy of activity that advanced the technological development of brass instruments. These remarkable improvements made it possible to seamlessly run the scale over several octaves without loss of tonal quality. Nathan Adams was right in the middle of this action.

Adams is best known in brass instrument circles for his introduction of the “rotary valve,” possibly in 1824. It’s becoming more apparent in my research that Nathan Adams created a stir among musical instrument makers (and players) in Europe. He was well traveled and held in high regard in the various circles frequented by the musical elite. But his contributions have yet to be fully acknowledged.

I believe Nathan Adams was involved with the innovations which led to the invention of the “Vienna valve” trumpet. After all he was a machinist and had the capability to recreate, modify, or improve any brass instrument placed in his hands. He was considered a mechanical genius by his peers, colleagues … and especially, his friends. And his contributions to brass instrument development is widely accepted.

More to follow …

ORIGINAL Post July 9, 2015 … REVISED August 14, 2015, 4:26pm

by George DeLuca

Contributors to this post: Linda McCluskey, Paul Early, Mike, and Robb Stewart!

Works Cited:
Rosenberg, Chaim M., The Life and Times of Francis Cabot Lowell, 1775-1817, Lexington Books, copyright 2011

Eliason, Robert, “Early American Valves for American Instruments,” The Galpin Society Journal, Vol 23, p86-96, copyright 1970

Stewart, Robb, “1840s Trumpet in F by Leopold Uhlmann,” http://www.robbstewart.com

Photos courtesy of Linda McCluskey and Robb Stewart

The Pawtucket Falls of Lowell, MA; A Marriage of Power and History

Lowell’s Canals and Electrical Power
by David Tierney

I would like to expound on why the 6 miles of Lowell’s canals belong to Lowell, and as a designated National Historical Site should be taken by eminent domain to be administered by the National Park Service and the City of Lowell.  This would be a far better use of Justice Department resources than harassing the owner of the Caswell Motel. The mills made Lowell the Mill city. The Merrimack River made the mills possible. Waterpower gave birth to the city of Lowell and the region. Generations of Lowell immigrants dug those canals by hand. Shared ownership by the current citizens of the region is our sweat equity birthright. We need to claim it and utilize what has been given to us. The canals belong to us. With the largest River in New England running through our city we are sitting atop a great natural resource that we are failing to fully utilize to lift up and invigorate our region.

As a Greater Lowell collaboration with U-Mass Lowell’s Innovation Center, I would like to see the canals and the river be transformed unobtrusively with a series of micro generators so as not to become an industrial eye sore or an obstruction to sight, or recreational use, or the wild life in the waters and on the lands abutting the river. In restoring the function of the canals with modern micro technology there should be no need to locate ugly industrial objects along the banks or in the waters of the Merrimack.

Study after recent study has demonstrated the clear superiority of locally generated electrical power, its administration, its economy to the local communities served and the ease of response to repair from recurring storm damage. I would like to see The Lowell Sun under the guidance of its chairman and CEO, Kendall Wallace be involved with investigating and publicizing the legal issues involved in getting this project off the ground. For U-Mass Lowell and Marty Meehan this should be a marquis project for the city and the region. What are we waiting for?

Editor’s Notes:

A meeting to discuss the issues with The US Advisory Council on Historic Preservation ACHP was held on Feb. 5 at LNHP Boott Cotton Mills Theater. LTC was on hand to cover the event and will begin airing it beginning on March 1, 2013. For more information, please see http://www.achp.gov/news_pawtucketmeeting_20130129.html.