Publication Year: 2012
With warmth and humor, tuba virtuoso Harvey Phillips tells the story of his amazing life and career from his Missouri childhood through his days as a performer with the King Brothers and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circuses, his training at the Juilliard School, a stint with the US Army Field Band, and his freelance days with the New York City Opera and Ballet. A founder of the New York Brass Quintet, Phillips served as director of the New England Conservatory of Music and became Professor of Music at Indiana University. The creator of an industry of TubaChristmases, Octubafests, and TubaSantas, he crusaded for recognition of the tuba as a serious musical instrument, commissioning more than 200 works. Enhanced by an extensive gallery of photographs, Mr. Tuba conveys Phillips's playful zest for life while documenting his important musical legacy.
Published by: Indiana University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Harvey Phillips and I got to be really good friends after our first meeting in 1959 on an LP recording of The Golden Striker: The Music of John Lewis. Harvey asked me to write a piece for him. In 1967 Gunther Schuller was appointed president of the...
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John W. Ryan, for urging me to write this book. Dr. Ryan became president of Indiana University the same day I became professor of tuba at IU. We first met at the induction ceremonies and our paths crossed at several receptions appropriate to the occasion. It was...
1. Growing Up in Missouri
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News spread quickly in our small town of Marionville, Missouri. In mid-June 1947, when the preacher of my church heard that I would be “running away with the circus,” he drove to our house and asked to speak with my mother and me. As always, Mom greeted the...
2. King Bros. Circus Band
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It was the afternoon of Saturday, June 22, 1947, and my dad, brother-in-law Ralph Wilks, and I had just finished putting another wagonload of hay bales into the barn loft. As we replenished our supply of cold well water in a jug hanging on a hook under the wagon, we observed...
3. Traveling with the Greatest Show on Earth
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Once again, I was “running away” with the circus, only this time there was no preacher’s visit to contend with. Mom and Dad, with Mr. and Mrs. Homer Lee, gave me a proper send-off from the Missouri Pacific Passenger Station in Aurora. I was excited and anxious to be...
4. Juilliard, Studying with William J. Bell
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The morning after I moved in, I spoke to Eric about doing some minor redecorating, at my expense, of course. Eric cordially allowed that I could do whatever I wanted to do, as the room had needed redecorating for too long. I went to Tante Lena about...
5. Freelancing 101
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It is difficult to reconcile that, having had such limited exposure to music for seventeen years, at age twenty I was a Juilliard freshman studying tuba with the great William Bell. I was also a busy freelance musician in New York City, the...
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Through much of the summer of 1952, I performed as a replacement for Mr. Bell with the Asbury Park Municipal Band, conducted by Frank Bryan. The proud traditions established in the 1930s by conductors and legendary co-founders Arthur...
7. Chamber Music, New York Brass Quintet
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World War II ended in August 1945. By the fall of 1946, Juilliard, like many other conservatories and college and university schools of music, was crowded beyond capacity by returning servicemen taking advantage of the GI Bill. Few schools were...
8. A New York Professional
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After my discharge from the Army, Carol and I took an apartment at 42-25 80th Street in Elmhurst, Long Island, one block away from Elmhurst Hospital. A lot of musicians had apartments in that big building. The owner and manager of the...
9. On Tour with the New York Brass Quintet
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One time in 1954 the New York Brass Quintet was in Boston to do children’s concerts in Brookline, Massachusetts, for a couple of days. We had an afternoon off and went to Harvard to their little recital hall to rehearse and perform. There was an...
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10. Family, Friends, and Summer Activities
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In 1959, Julius Bloom, executive director of the Carnegie Hall Corporation, requested that Gunther—himself one of America’s most important composers—select, organize, and present a series of modern chamber music. The concert series would be presented in...
11. New England Conservatory of Music
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In March 1967 I received a call from Gunther Schuller. He told me he had been appointed president of the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) in Boston and he was inviting me to work with him as his vice president for financial affairs. I was...
12. The Search for TubaRanch
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Bill Bell, who was scheduled for the two-week Cumberland Music Camp in 1971, took ill before the camp started. His sister came and took him to Perry, Iowa, where she lived. I stepped in. My responsibilities to the camp were finished...
13. Institute for Advanced Musical Studies
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In my first year at the New England Conservatory, a young conductor, Daniell Revenaugh, of the Jacksonville Symphony, had come to see me. He inquired about my availability to administer a project establishing an advanced school of musical studies...
14. Bassed in Bloomington
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In teaching at Indiana University, I endeavored to discover each student’s strengths and weaknesses. Our job was to work on the weaknesses while not losing any of the strengths. Each student made two columns on a piece of paper and wrote down strengths...
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15. Carnegie Hall Recitals
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For several years, some of my colleagues, both composers and performers, suggested that I do a Carnegie Hall recital. I resisted the temptation because I felt my teacher, William J. Bell, should present one first. In 1961, Roger Bobo, a tubist wunderkind...
16. Indiana University Retirement
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In February 1972, I received a call from Mason Jones, personnel manager of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He told me I had been recommended by the orchestra search committee for the tuba position being vacated by Abraham Torchinsky and that Maestro...
17. Renaissance of the Tuba: A Summary
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In discussions with friends and associates, I would occasionally hear, “Harvey, you take the tuba too seriously.” When appropriate, my response was, “The tuba is my vocation and my avocation; it houses, clothes, and feeds my family. Don’t you think I should...
18. On Being a Teacher
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Becoming a teacher of music is a calling equal to that of religion. Teaching personifies a devout life of selfless giving and sharing all that you have with others. Instrumental teaching is like being a parent, a lifetime commitment concerned with every aspect of...
19. Performance Tips
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If you have the opportunity to appear on a local or national popular talk show, dress well, look neat, be alert and personable, and, most importantly, be knowledgeable and articulate. Send information about your instrument and your career to the host...
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Allowing myself to be put in positions for which I had not been prepared forced me to work an insane schedule when it came to balancing family time, personal time, and professional maintenance as a performer. By that, I simply mean if I had kept my...
Friends and Colleagues
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About the Author
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Page Count: 496
Publication Year: 2012