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The euphonium is the tenor of tuba family. The first tenor tuba was built in Berlin in 1838; this was superseded in 1843 by the "euphonium" a wide bore instrument invented by one Herr Sommer of Weimar. (This appears not to be the similarly named gentleman who played tuba and euphonium in Louis Jullien's orchestra in the 1850s). This "German" line of development appears to have merged with a "French" line via the saxhorn family in the 1840s and 1850s.

* See Clifford Bevan "The Tuba Family" (Faber, 1978) for the history of the tuba and its associates and antecedents.

But despite this historical lineage the euphonium might almost be reckoned a "British" instrument because of its identification with the brass band, always in the past, and even now, a primarily British institution in which it may in pitch and agility be reckoned as the cello or "tenor" of the ensemble. Its music can be written in either the bass or treble clef; the latter is almost, but as we shall see not quite, exclusive to the scoring in the brass band.

The euphonium's agility and versatility have made it a popular solo instrument in brass band concerts. In this area its solo repertoire includes many examples both of the brilliant "air with variations" and of the "slow melody" types. Long established ones include Rule Britannia, by Hartmann, Bonnie Mary of Argyle, Let Me Like a Soldier Fall (from Wallace's opera Maritana), William Rimmer's Fantasia on Weber's Last Waltz, Stanley Gordon's The Iceberg and Drinking arranged by the one time Black Dyke conductor J A Greenwood; among the best of the recent ones are Ray Woodfield's Varied Mood and Gordon Langford's Blaydon Races and Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms. Euphonium solos for the Salvation Army include Ray Steadman-Allen's The Ransomed Host (1954). A popular item for two euphoniums and band is the Duo by T J Powell. During the past generation there has been a tendency for composers to write more substantial music for solo euphonium and brass band. Joseph Horovitz led the way in 1972 with his Euphonium Concerto a good piece with a beautiful slow movement and a busy finale, and more recently Philip Sparke has produced a Fantasy, John Golland two concertos, Derek Bourgeois his Euphonia, Denzil Stephens a Rhapsody and Brian Bowen his Euphonium Music. Gordon Jacob's Fantasia originally for euphonium and piano, was rescored for euphonium and band and shows its composer's characteristic and unerring touch for the colour and the possibilities of whatever solo instrument he is writing for. Reginald Heath's agreeable Andante and Scherzo was similarly transcribed. And we may also mention Sparke's Concerto Grosso (1988) for two cornets, euphonium, horn and band and Denis Wright's considerably earlier, very expansive, sometimes Elgarian indeed, Trio Concerto for cornet, trombone and euphonium with band. Elgar's Cello Concerto has been recorded in an arrangement for euphonium and band.

However the euphonium has by no means been confined to brass and military bands and has often been employed in the orchestra. In the instrument's earlier days, Louis Jullien's British Army Quadrilles included a solo recitative for it. In the late 19th century tuba parts in English orchestras were often played by euphoniums and this may account for the lively orchestral tuba parts penned by British composers like Elgar, Bax, Holst, Lambert, Walton, Britten and Malcolm Arnold. Many British light orchestral scores of the late 19th century included a euphonium and we may cite: H G Amers' Miracle d'Amour; John Carlovitz Ames' Amiri March; Charles Ancliffe's Huetamo and his waltzes Shy Glances and Smiles, then Kisses; John Ansell's Plymouth Hoe overture, Hubert Bath's nautical march Admirals All; Thomas Bidgood's potpourris: A Darkey's Dreamland, A Motor Ride, Happy Days in Dixie and The Water Melon Patch and his march Sons of the Brave; Max Darewski's march Nelson's Victory 1805; Montague Ewing's one-step The Policeman's Holiday; J Ord-Hume's The Bells of Ouseley and The Butterfly; Hermann Finck's Mystic Beauty, In Toyland march, his polka march Monte Carlo and the overture Opera Bouffe; Percy Fletcher's Three Light Pieces, March of the Manikins, Parisian Sketches (which include his best known movement, Bal Masqué), The Spirit of Pageantry march, Wonder Eyes and the Woodland Pictures suite; Allan Macbeth's Forget-Me-Not; Charles Woodhouse's Wait for the Wagon, Haydn Wood's Jimmy Sale Rag; and a large number of arrangements made by Fletcher, Woodhouse, H M Higgs, the Godfreys and Gerrard Williams. More recently the instrument has been employed in films and television music and sometimes in jazz (the New Squadronnaires Dance Orchestra, formed in 1984, has included a euphonium player, Wendy Picton) and, as in John Barry's musical Billy, the theatre. And one of the highlights of Henry J Wood's perennially popular Fantasia on British Sea Songs (1905) is the solo in "The Saucy Arethusa" section originally intended for euphonium but nowadays it is often played on the bass tuba.

Few serious British composers have written specifically for the euphonium as part of the orchestra

* Foreign ones include Richard Strauss and Janacek.

Bax's Overture to a Picaresque Comedy (1930) included a part for tuba in B flat but usually played - whenever the piece is revived, which is rarely - on euphonium. Most notably Gustav Holst himself once a brass player, called for a euphonium (and, what is more, notated in the treble clef of the brass band) in The Planets and it makes an overpowering appearance in Mars. Joseph Holbrooke and Havergal Brian were two major British figures who often wrote for very large instrumental forces, so we should not be too surprised to see them giving the euphonium a chance now and then. Holbrooke does so in his operas Bronwen, especially in the overture, The Children of Don (including its overture and the eight minute orchestral Wild Fowl Fantasy derived from it) and Dylan, (the first two of which have parts for both euphoniums and contrabass tuba) and in at least three purely orchestral works, the Variations on Auld Lang Syne, No 3(!) Opus 60 and the Symphonies Nos 2, Opus 51 (Apollo and the Seaman) and 3, Opus 90 (Ships). Havergal Brian required two euphoniums in the Gothic Symphony and one in each of the Symphonies Nos 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17 and 19 - in No 8, in B Flat Minor, euphonium, tuba, and three side-drums open the work strikingly with a brief, menacing march-like motif. Few other serious British composers have been as enthusiastic for the instrument. Elizabeth Lutyens' Quincunx for soprano and baritone voices and orchestra (1960) has parts for two "tenor tubas" (so described). Heath's Andante and Scherzo, already mentioned, has a version with orchestral accompaniment and Howard Blake's BBC commission of 1979 From The Cradle to the Grave for five voices and instruments, includes a euphonium - though his instrumentation is admittedly quirky (the other players are cor anglais, two cornets, piano, violin, guitar and tuba).

There are comparatively few British solos for euphonium and piano which do not have a brass band derivation: Jacob's Fantasia, Alec Templeton's Elegie, an arrangement of part of one of the cello concertos by the 18th century composer John Garth of Durham and maybe Philip Catelinet's London Bridge,

* Catelinet was the first soloist to record Vaughan Williams's Tuba Concerto and in view of his Salvation Army involvement he may be said to have a brass band background. He is also credited with Divertissements for four euphoniums.

Ernest Young's Euphonium Suite and Euphonium Sonata and Donald White's Lyric Suite.

This is a situation which has concerned the Lancashire-born euphonium player Wendy Picton, brought up in brass band country and sometime a brass band player but who is anxious to widen the instrument's scope and image. A finalist in the brass section of the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 1982 and otherwise heaped with awards and praise for her playing, she has commissioned a considerable amount of new music for the euphonium: Etudes and a Sonata by the Wigan-born composer Frank Hughes, Nigel Clarke's Eyes of the Stone Lion Bleeding (1989), a substantial piece in three sections, commissioned by the Park Lane Group with funds supported by the Greater London Arts Association and played by her on the South Bank in January 1989; a piece for euphonium, strings and percussion by the Welshman Cyril Lloyd; a Sonata by Paul Pellay; and, performed in Wigan in 1989, a Concerto by Derek Bourgeois.

* The Concerto No 3 Diram of 1962 by the prolific American composer Alan Hovhaness was for baritone (saxhorn) and string orchestra. Horovitz later scored the accompanimennt to his Concerto mentioned above, for orchestra. Bourgeois has previously composed a Concerto for tuba and orchestra.

This is probably the first concerto specifically composed for euphonium and orchestra. Additionally Arthur Butterworth transcribed his Summer Music, originally for bassoon, for her while she herself has been responsible for many transcriptions on her own account.

* I am indebted to Wendy for much of the information in this article.

Philip Scowcroft

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