Elden Benge was only 7 years old when he first fell in love with the trumpet - a love that would turn into a life-long affair for the Winterset, Iowa native. It was also then that he adopted his first hero, the trumpeter of the hometown band. Young Elden persuaded his family to buy a trumpet for him, and he practiced religiously. He began playing professionally when he was 14 and, years later, assumed the role of First Trumpet with major symphony orchestras in Detroit and Chicago.
As a gifted musician, Benge became increasingly dissatisfied with the range of tone available in ordinary mass-produced trumpets. He studied the technical and mechanical aspects of the trumpet in search of ways to improve its playing characteristics. Working with two craftsmen skilled in the construction of the trumpet, Benge began to fashion trumpets in the basement of his home.
Through tireless experimentation, he finally developed his "dream trumpet" . . . an instrument with remarkable clarity, tonal range and easy response. Success was due to a combination of specially designed tapers, extremely precise machining tolerances, and special alloys. But the secret ingredient was meticulous attention to detail.
In 1939 Benge sold his first custom-made trumpet to a fellow trumpeter in the Chicago Symphony. News of the marvelous Benge trumpet spread among professional players and what had begun as an artistic endeavor was soon a thriving business. Top trumpet players everywhere began to call on Benge to solve their performing problems. By 1952, the demand for the trumpet was so great that Benge retired from active performing so that he could devote all of his energies to his goal of producing the world's finest trumpets.
So imagine Porter's delight in being given a Benge trumpet! Little did we know the interesting history behind the instrument and maker.
Young Eldon Benge
A website that's dedicated to preserving the Benge history http://www.musicbyjoelill.com/benge/index.htm