In Memoriam Edward H. Tarr

2020-04-13

Irmtraud Tarr, widow of Edward H. Tarr, has written this obituary to the trumpet world with the wish of sharing Ed’s life. It is not a conventional obituary (with successes and achievements) but an emotional one, showing what Ed was really like as a person. We send a huge hug to Irmy from Trumpetland.

Ed taught trumpet until his last day. He had mountains of sheet music on his desk that he still wanted to edit and publish. He was a tireless trumpeter and researcher, fueled by a passionate thirst for knowledge and commitment. He had the amazing ability to build theoretical and practical bridges between performance practice, construction, and the history of the "King of Instruments." Like the great men of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, he knew how to create integration and synthesis from research, art, and interpretation.

I was 15 years old when my father took me to one of Ed’s concerts, of which he later wrote a review. "You have to know him," he said, "he will be a great trumpeter one day." That encounter would become 40 years of living with Ed. But, besides that, I felt chills when I heard his unmistakable trumpet sound. I told my father, "I also want to be a musician," to which he replied, "Well, since you love churches, why don't you learn to play the organ?" And so my journey as an organist began, playing an instrument that Ed loved, because his first love (in the form of a record collection) was not the trumpet, but the organ. And this had to do with his mother, who normally accompanied him on keyboard instruments, composed music for him and, along with her husband, Ed’s father, a pastor, made long trips to take her beloved "Prince Edward" to see his trumpet professors.

Although I have studied with renowned organists (Eduard Müller and Daniel Chorzempa in Basel, Pierre Segond in Geneva), my greatest mentor has been Ed. We’ve spent countless and unforgettable hours together on the organ; with him there, his eyes wide and his eyebrows often raised in amusement. Our interactions we had during countless duo concerts were similar: always with our eyes closed, playing almost telepathically, and with the same breath.

Without Ed, my vital world becomes smaller. What I miss the most are the nightly conversations we had, throughout these 40 years. My current “new beginning” stems from farewell and loss. My inner wealth throughout my life with Ed was less, but now it has become more intense, because he still lives in me with his kindness and tenderness. Today, I read my newspaper alone because he no longer reads it to me. Today, I am surprised by the hundreds of letters and love notes that we wrote to each other. I look for a life where the tears and the longing subsides, and new impulses spring from the words and phrases we forged together.

My hope is to think that those who have stood on Ed's shoulders will convey what Ed meant to them, because of his love for them, the music, and his instrument.

By Irmtraud Tarr