Historical Instrument Column
Clifford Bevan and Craig Kridel, Associate Editors
“The Clifford Bevan Award for Meritorious Work in Low Brass Scholarship”
By Craig Kridel
When ITEA in 2008 began the process to establish the first biennial Clifford Bevan Award for Excellence in Research, an honor that recognizes and encourages the work of young scholars, the organization also began discussing if the inauguration of this award afforded an occasion to recognize those individuals who have helped to establish the “foundations” for low brass scholarship. A decision was made to present a separate award for meritorious work to those scholars whose careers are well established and whose past years of research have helped to define the low brass field. An ad-hoc Bevan Award for Meritorious Work (Bevan Merit Award) Committee was formed, drawn from the organization’s leadership, and 15 individuals were ultimately designated for this one-time selection. Conceived along similar themes of the Bevan Research Award, Bevan Merit Awards recognize research on contemporary as well as historical topics, including acoustics, composition, theory, scoring, organology, performance practices, and pedagogy. The ad hoc committee sought, through its selections, to display the many forms of scholarship, conducted by professional musicians, academics, teachers, and independent researchers, and to portray the great breadth and variety in styles and topics.
At the 2010 International Tuba Euphonium Conference, I had the opportunity to introduce those Bevan Award for Meritorious Work recipients who were in attendance. Now is the occasion to not only introduce all who received the award but, also, to use this column as an opportunity to garner advice and suggestions for the neophyte researcher from many of those individuals who have helped to define our understanding of the tuba and euphonium. In preparation for this column, I wrote to each recipient with a number of questions about the nature of scholarship, important works and experiences of their career, and general advice for those who wish to enter the field of research.
Recipients of The Clifford Bevan Award for Meritorious Work in Low Brass Scholarship
I wish to begin by introducing those recipients who are quite familiar to ITEA members and readers of this journal. An award was given to Brian L. Bowman for his life-long contributions to scholarship on the euphonium and bass trumpet in its many realms including the orchestral and operatic literature. When asked what research topics should be examined in the upcoming decades, Dr. Bowman identified a number of themes that he felt would be of particular interest for those in the euphonium world (future researchers—take heed): documenting performers and teachers with biographies, photographs, and recordings; examining the design and production of instruments with particular attention to nationalistic and regional differences, nomenclature, and usage; researching the various roles of the members of the euphonium/baritone horn family in ensembles, bands, orchestras and chamber music.
Skip Gray was recognized with a Bevan Merit Award for his meticulous and comprehensive archival and bibliographic work, including his examination of one hundred and seven works for solo tuba with orchestra and, specifically his scholarship related to the Vaughan Williams tuba concerto; clearly, his research has added greatly to our understanding of repertoire for low brass. When responding to the same question posed to Brian, “what research topics should be examined in the upcoming decade,” Dr. Gray offers equally interesting suggestions for the emerging researcher: he writes “one area that really hasn’t had much focused attention is the use and the effects of culture on the tuba or euphonium. For instance, how the tuba is used and what kind of performing literature it has in a specific region of the world, and how the people respond to the instrument.” Skip tempers this suggestion with the caveat to the neophyte scholar: “look for a topic in which you are very, very interested, even passionate, and then work at narrowing the subject into components that are not overwhelming. Then begin collecting, organizing, and analyzing information and see where it takes you.”
No low brass research award could be given without including R. Winston Morris for his many scholarly endeavors as well as his distinguished organizational work with the The Tuba Source Book and the subsequent Guide to the Tuba Repertoire (The New Tuba Source Book) and Guide to the Euphonium Repertoire (The Euphonium Source Book). A listing of Professor Morris’ accolades and scholarly contributions would fill many columns; this is one recipient “who needs no introduction.” When asked “how does one decide upon a research topic,” Winston’s response proves helpful to students (as well as to advanced scholars): “one must ask in each individual case ‘does this information advance knowledge in a broad sense or merely serve to help obtain a degree’!?” He continued in his comments to note the necessity of completing the requirements for a degree but perhaps the neophyte low brass scholar should actually devote more attention to the significance and practical application of the original research. Winston concludes with an admonition that many would agree should be inscribed on all music bibliography course syllabi: “Do not undertake any project unless you have a passion for the subject at hand and are willing to thoroughly document your findings. Inaccurate research is worse than no research!”
A Bevan Merit Award was given to Mark A. Nelson for his work with performance editions and commissioned works and his role as associate editor, for many years, of the New Materials section of the ITEA Journal. Dr. Nelson encourages all members of ITEA to enter the realm of research: “I think anyone associated with this field as a performer, teacher, or scholar can become engaged in the process of research in the field of low brass. The ability to research where primary source material is available through Internet and library materials is essential, including the development of many personal contacts in the field. Tracking down details as well as documenting evidence is crucial when formulating hypotheses about a particular aspect of research. As well, developing good writing skills, often the weaker part of many performance degrees, is essential.”
ITEA Journal editor, Jason Roland Smith, has been recognized with a Bevan Award for his important editorial work and his significant biographical and musicological research on Alec Wilder. During Dr. Smith’s tenure as editor of the journal, the publication has expanded its areas of inquiry, increased the amount of published scholarship, and proved that thoughtful research and fine writing can be forged together for any topic related to the euphonium and tuba. As Jason steps down from this position, he encourages low brass researchers “to examine carefully the successful research of others and not to be reluctant to explore scholarship in cross-related areas,” and he calls for more research on the modern cimbasso and modern saxhorn, topics “far neglected by today’s players and scholars.”
Among those easily recognized names among the Bevan Merit Award recipients, Jerry A. Young received an award not only for his very important scholarship pertaining to the tuba and the symphonic works to Bruckner and Mahler and his performance editions of methods and technical studies for tuba and euphonium (notably the Arban project) but, also, for his dedicated research and service as editor of then-named TUBA Journal. Dr. Young’s advice also proves encouraging for the neophyte researcher and underscores a theme that arose in many of the recipients’ responses—namely, the act of research is accessible to all. Jerry writes, “Everyone has her/his own set of specific interests and ‘seasons of life.’ At some point we all do research, whether we define it as such specifically. Pursuing rigorous academic research isn’t for everyone, nor does it have to be. However, all of us who are teaching professionals should be involved in research as consumers (reading the latest research on teaching issues in addition to research being done specific to our teaching area/expertise) and in what I call ‘action research’ (conducting controlled studies with our students to arrive with solutions to problems that apply directly to them in their own settings and situations).”
The next two recipients, posthumous awards, were designated by none other than Clifford Bevan. I must admit that Bevan “reluctantly” bestowed his name on this award and the Award for Excellence in Research. His stature as the quintessential scholar is universally recognized, and comments about The Tuba Family permeated the recipients’ responses. Skip Gray described the publication as “an inspiration and unwavering beacon for those interested in studying and further investigating the history and literature of the instruments.” Winston Morris mentioned that Bevan’s history was and is one of the most significant publications ever released on the tuba, and Douglas Yeo wrote that, “The Tuba Family is a book I have in my hand at least twice a week. It is never far from my reach. It remains the most inspirational book on early brasses I have ever read and it has given me a lot to think about and work on.”
Yet, I spent many months gently prodding Cliff to allow his name to be placed on the awards. British modesty and humbleness were finally won over, for a variety of reasons, but one included the decision that awards could be given to two important individuals in Bevan’s life, John Fletcher and Christopher Monk.
I hope all ITEA Journal readers recognize John Fletcher’s name, a player who in Bevan’s estimation “revolutionised the concept of British tuba playing through both example and enthusiasm.” Fletcher’s series of articles in the Sounding Brass journal “were astonishingly thoughtful, perceptive, and written with a degree of candour that only someone with his reputation could get away with.” I suspect, however, that fewer readers will recognize the name Christopher Monk (even though every Historical Instrument Column, beginning with the first in 1992, has been dedicated to him with the closing cryptic sign: 4×24—for Christopher). Monk’s scholarship took practical forms as he researched and then designed modern reproductions of both the serpent and the cornetto (the Renaissance-era, end-blown treble horn), basically resurrecting both instruments from historical obscurity. Christopher Monk, much like John Fletcher, integrated his scholarship with music making in the type of “action research” called for by Jerry Young. Monk and Fletcher serve as exemplars for the significance of practical research and how knowledge can truly make a difference in the lives of low brass musicians.
While Clifford Bevan was not a recipient of his own award (of course!), he certainly was not immune from my request for research suggestions and advice for the emerging scholar and, in response to the questionnaire that I sent to the Bevan Merit Award recipients, he replied to the open-ended question of how one becomes a low brass researcher. Rather than focusing on research technique or some form of standardized bibliographic training, Bevan underscored the importance of curiosity (as did other recipients): “I think that it’s first of all necessary to be curious, to have a need to know and to know more than predecessors have felt the need to know.” Bevan’s “need to know” and curiosity remain quite strong as he listed his future research topics, including the comment “I am interested in the impact on 19th century leading professional British keyed low brass players of the need to take up valved low brass. In addition to considering the new musical requirements, I want to explore those made on technique.” The designation of a named research award does not end a career of scholarship. ITEA members can look forward to many future publications from Clifford Bevan!
Other recipients of the Bevan Merit Award are less familiar within ITEA circles; however, their scholarship reaches far and wide and displays the committee’s belief that conceptions of research are flexible and that the field of low brass scholarship is open and inviting for those who wish to add to the body of knowledge. Arnold Myers was recognized with a Bevan Merit Award for his leadership within the community of music instrument collections and his efforts to continually champion low brass organology. Dr. Myers has been a leading force within Comité International des Musées et Collections d’Instruments de Musique (International Committee of Musical Instrument Museums and Collections) and has helped to redefine the taxonomic classification of brass instruments. When asked about the development of research skills, he writes, “having a formal scientific education has certainly helped me acquire the discipline of a researcher, and being a low brass player is always helpful in providing reality checks for hypotheses and conclusions about instruments. Sharing ideas with players and scholars is most valuable and provides a large part of the motivation for research work. I am lucky to have been able to see and study a very large number of instruments in collections large and small, an experience which trains the eye and stimulates curiosity!” The doctoral advisor of Eugenia Mitroulia, the recipient of the 2010 Clifford Bevan Award for Excellence in Research, Arnold is preparing a new generation of researchers to help further our understanding of low brass.
D. M. Campbell, a colleague of Dr. Myers as well as a past contributor, along with Arnold, to this Historical Instrument Column, received a merit award for his groundbreaking work on the acoustical properties of wind instruments and, specifically, modern and historical brass. A professor of musical acoustics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh, his treatise, Musical Instruments: History, Technology, and Performance of Instruments of Western Music (with Clive Greated and Arnold Myers), offers new insights and directions for the acoustical study of low brass.
A Bevan Merit Award was given to Bruno Kampmann for his remarkable abilities in developing and editing the journal Larigot and for his research pursuits in organology and, specifically, in the areas of valves and mouthpieces, instrument components that serve to influence greatly the sound but topics that have too often been neglected. While many researchers draw upon a variety of archival documents, Bruno has reminded the low brass world of the importance of patents and has underscored the significance of the themes of design and invention within the area of brass scholarship. He is currently engaged in research projects with Perinet and Gautrot valves and notes that “Gautrot patented perhaps more ideas on valves than Sax, and most of them are yet unknown!”
Benny Sluchin received a Bevan Merit Award for his outstanding history on the trombone, Le Trombone à travers les ages (a book that Clifford Bevan mentioned that he turns to often). In addition, he has meticulously edited a scholarly edition of one of the more important low brass instructional treatises of the late 18th century, J. B. Metoyen’s Method de serpent, drawing upon cultural historiography to bring out unknown dimensions of the low brass world in Paris during this period. Dr. Sluchin’s response underscored the importance of contemporary scholarship: “significant research topics exist for all periods. Sometimes it is not the oldest instruments that require more work. There are many topics from the last decade that need further research.”
The important (and scholarly) role of research editor continues to receive recognition with a Bevan Merit Award being given to Stewart Carter in recognition of distinguished, life-long research on Renaissance brass and dedicated service as editor of many low brass editions and collections. Interestingly, Dr. Carter’s research skills were greatly honed by his role as editor, and he reminds the neophyte brass scholar of the importance of being an engaged reader and examining how other researchers conduct their work and write their essays. Stewart responded to my query by noting “when the Historic Brass Society was launched, I became more and more interested in low-brass research and agreed to edit the Historic Brass Society Journal. I was compelled to delve deeply into the research of others than I had ever thought possible—scholars such as Ed Tarr, Trevor Herbert, Herbert Heyde, and many others. My experiences as an editor—observing first-hand how experts in the field solved problems and how they conveyed the fruits of their labors to others—have informed my own research in ways that I never imagined.”
A Bevan Merit Award was given to Douglas Yeo in recognition of his creative use of the Internet to introduce, display, and disseminate scholarship. Yeo’s website is visited by thousands daily and serves as a significant pedagogical force for the low brass community. He writes, “when I developed my website in 1996, I wanted my site to be an endpoint – a place where people went to get useful information. My goal was to create a site that was viewable on any computer in any country in the world using any operating system and viewed on any monitor. As a result, I eschewed ‘whistles and bells’ like Java, frames, Shockwave and Flash. The result is that my site has become one of the most viewed websites of its kind, offering free information to viewers on subjects as diverse as the Bach Cello Suites, the serpent, and orchestral audition preparation. The Internet is about ideas. It’s not about selling CDs or books, or telling people how great you are. It’s the battle for ideas, and ideas change the world.”
Finally (and much to my surprise), this independent ad hoc award committee presented me with a Bevan Merit Award for organizational research for serpent classes, meetings, and festivals and for exploratory scholarship during the past twenty years as author and editor of the Historical Instrument Column. I did not complete my own questionnaire; however, I was quite pleased to see so many recipients emphasize the importance of biographical research (an academic interest of mine). For those many ITEA Journal readers who wish to engage in scholarship, no better foray exists than interviewing senior brass players and preparing biographical vignettes. I encourage any interested reader to examine Stephen Oates’ Biography as High Adventure and, as was I, to become enraptured with the magnificence of biographical inquiry.
My congratulations to the recipients of the Clifford Bevan Award for Meritorious Work in Low Brass Scholarship. I recognize that my descriptions are much too brief and that I could have as easily listed pages of bibliographic writings and accolades for each person. Rather, I hope the recipients’ comments intrigue ITEA Journal readers—the many curious readers—to continue their explorations into the low brass literature where they will see so often these names. Read carefully, read widely, and accept the Bevan Award for Meritorious Work recipients’ invitation to engage this material from the perspective of wonder and curiosity and to lead a life of research and scholarship.