SATB (divisi) + Trumpet in C
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Thaw every breast, melt every eye with woe,
Here’s dissolution by the hand of death!
To dirt, to water, turned the fairest Snow.
O! The King’s trumpeter has lost his breath.
— Anonymous Epitaph
Muehleisen’s Snow (the King’s Trumpeter) was written as a musical memorial for Roy Cummings (a University of Washington Professor of Trumpet and Jazz Studies), whose untimely death in January 2000 shocked the Seattle musical community and left a great void in many lives, particularly those of his family and students. The individual referred to as “Snow” in the text is most likely Valentine Snow, the 18th-century English trumpeter who succeeded three generations of the Shore family in the post of Sergeant Trumpeter (the lead Royal Trumpeter in the English court). The solo trumpet parts in many of Handel’s later orchestral works and operas were written specifically for Snow.
The central features of Muehleisen’s setting are the two prominent trumpet soliloquies, which represent the beloved court trumpeter referred to in the text. The first soliloquy appears shortly after the opening; the second passage appears in reaction to the phrase, “the King’s trumpeter has lost his breath.” This passage is a transformation and a kind of musical “dissolution” of the opening soliloquy. After a last farewell by the choir, the trumpeter has the final word.