Girolamo Fantini was a great celebrity in the Italian musical world of the 17th century. Documents of the period show he was paid great respect, placing him in a position of esteem reserved for a chosen few musicians. Praises such as «Girolamo è qui, sonante ogni ora con sì mirabil’arte» (Girolamo is here, ever playing with such wondrous art), «Monarca della Tromba hoggi egli è’n terra» (Monarch of the Trumpet, he now walks the earth) or «Ahi, che la fama di tal dono ornol- lo, […] faccia del gran Fantini eterni vanti» (Ah, may the fame of this gift adorn him, […] give the great Fantini everlasting glory), taken from poems dedicated to him, are eloquent testimonies of his success. In 1636 Marin Mersenne wrote «Hieronymo Fantino tubicine totius Italiae excellentissimo» (Girolamo Fantini is the greatest trumpeter in all of Italy) and in 1637 Ferdinando de’ Bardi notes: «cessando il canto veniva talora accompagnato con singolare maestria dalla tromba di Girolamo, famoso trombetta di S.A.» (the song end- ing, at times there was the accompaniment of the rare mastery by the trumpet of Girolamo, the famous trumpet of His Highness). Never before had a trumpet player been so highly praised.
A total number of five original printings are known to be kept at the following libraries: Biblioteca Centrale Nazionale di Firenze, Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale di Bologna, Biblioteca del Conservatorio di musica «B. Marcello» di Venezia, Bibliotheque National de Paris, Berlin Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz. In addition, there is one handwritten copy (New York Public Library3) and publications in facsimile: Bollettino Bibliografico Musicale (Collezione di trattati e musiche antiche edite in fac-simile, Milano, 1934) and The Brass Press (Nashville, 1972-1978).
The Modo per imparare a sonare di tromba is a fundamental work in the history of the trumpet. At the be- ginning of the Baroque the trumpet was still relegated to military and ceremonial functions, reflecting a centuries-old tradition, handed down orally for the most part. Fantini contributed greatly to the trumpet’s acceptance in refined music, which in the 16th and 17th centuries experienced considerable changes in instrument construction and playing techniques. He takes up only 14 pages (of a total 80 on music) «dallo stile delli antichi Trombetti» (on the style of the Trumpeters of earlier times).