Ralph Vaughan Williams' Tuba Concerto was written in 1953/4 in response to an invitation to compose a work for the golden jubilee of the London Symphony Orchestra. Vaughan Williams was by then in is eighty-second year; an interest on unusual instrumental sonorities was a feature of his music in the latter part of his life. He had used saxophones in the masque Job, vibraphone and wind machine in the Sinfonia Antartica (Symphony No.7) and even completed a concerto for harmonica, piano and strings for Larry Adler. So his choice of tuba as solo instrument was less surprising than it might have seemed, and he justified it by treating it seriously and poetically, emphasising its lyrical capabilities rather than the more comic propensities. The work is dedicated to the LSO and its then principal tuba player, Philip Catelinet, whom the composer consulted constantly throughout the writing of the work. The lively, outer movements both conclude with extended cadenzas, while the beautifully lyrical Romanza is Vaughan Williams at his best.
The arrangement is a welcome addition to the brass band repertoire and can be heard on several recordings including the CD The Alchymist's Journal featuring James Gourlay and the Leyland Band, conducted by Michael Fowles. A sound clip of piece can be found here
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