Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Dr. Bob Prescribes Sergei Nakariakov

Yesterday’s Music History Monday focused on the crime of passion that was the murder of the be-bop trumpet player Lee Morgan (1938-1972), a crime committed on February 19, 1972, by his common-law wife, Helen Moore.

Morgan was an extraordinary player, someone who recorded prodigiously and who – being only 33 years old when he was killed – should have had a long and storied career in front of him.

Morgan didn’t get his first trumpet until he was 13. Nevertheless, by the time he was 18, he was already making records and performing as a member of the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band. Given that he died at 33, I suppose we should be grateful that he wasn’t a late bloomer, as he likely would have left little by way of a recorded legacy behind him!

The subject of this post is another trumpet player who made his mark as a youngster: Sergei Nakariakov, who was born in 1977. Nakariakov was a crazy child prodigy, and he has grown nicely into his maturity: today he must be considered among a handful of greatest living trumpet players.

I first introduced you to Maestro Nakariakov back in 2020, and it is time to visit with him again. But first, a brief but spirited examination of the trumpet as a “glamor” instrument.

Buckingham Park (later called “Bookbinder”) Elementary School, Levittown/Willingboro, N.J., which I attended from 1959-1965, kindergarten through 5th grade
Buckingham Park (later called “Bookbinder”) Elementary School, Levittown/Willingboro, N.J., which I attended from 1959-1965, kindergarten through 5th grade

The Instruments We Choose!

We routinely decry the death (or near death) of music appreciation classes in public schools. However, if my experience is any indication, I would suggest we temper our outcry based on the harsh, white light of reality. Growing up in the South Jersey township of Willingboro and attending public schools there from kindergarten through high school (1959-1972), my experience was that classroom instruction in “music appreciation” was a total, unmitigated joke; no teachers (or subject matter) were treated with greater, more extravagant disrespect than were these unfortunate creatures.


I do (and always will) rue the demise (or near demise) of band and chorus programs in public schools. In my experience, these were taught by no-nonsense professionals who by their teaching and personal example had a tremendous impact on their young charges. Every fourth grader in my school district (and I imagine in pretty much all public-school districts at the time, nation-wide), had to choose and play an instrument for a minimum of two academic years: through the fifth grade. Even the delinquents got into it, and for at least that (brief) period of time, every one of these kids had the opportunity to personally make some sort of music, which is among the greatest, most humanizing gifts we can give any child.…

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