C.G. Conn Elkhart Model 80H SPEC New York Symphony “Simone Mantia”

Simone Mantia, renowned euphonium soloist with the Sousa Band and later principal trombonist for Toscanini at The Metropolitan Opera, owned this exceptional Conn trombone. Crafted by Jake Burkle, Conn’s legendary trombone designer for over 50 years, in 1940 specifically for Mantia, this trombone accommodated Mantia’s need for a larger bore instrument for Germanic operas. The 80H model is quite rare, initially designed for the Met section and featured in the catalog during the 1920s; however, only a few were ever constructed. This late addition, customized for such a prominent player, adds to its uniqueness.

One aspect I admire is that Conn created this trombone in the old flat wrap style of the 1920s, a one-off design for Mantia. I believe there was a special aura infused into this instrument, given its intended recipient—one of the most significant players of the century. I like to hypothesize about the interaction between Burkle and Mantia as he made this instrument. It features a medium .525″ bore slide, an 8″ bell, and uses a small shank mouthpiece. The gold-plate finish is not original, I suspect it is made of red brass underneath. The bell’s thinness adds to its responsiveness, creating a trombone that sounds much larger than its specifications suggest.

Following Mantia’s passing, the instrument passed through several hands, including Alan Ostrander, Robert Biddlecomb, and Steve Dillon, before being acquired by Kevin Delargy, Mantia’s great nephew. I express gratitude to Jeff Gittleson for facilitating the acquisition of this extraordinary horn, now proudly displayed in The Brass Ark museum and one of my most prized instruments.