ELEGY for Solo Tuba or Euphonium
By John Stevens
John Stevens has had a distinguished career for 30 years as a performer, teacher, composer, arranger, conductor, and administrator. Since 1985 he has been on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, where he is Professor of Tuba and Euphonium. Throughout his career John has been active as a composer and arranger for the tuba and euphonium in a variety of musical contexts. His works for low brass are among the most well known in the repertoire and are performed regularly and recorded by soloists, chamber groups, tuba/euphonium ensembles, and orchestras the world over.
His most recent project was a commissioned Concerto for Euphonium and Orchestra for Brian Bowman, to be premiered in 2005. One of John’s early compositions was a duet for two tubas, SPLINTERS, that appeared in the Spring 1982 T.U.B.A. Journal as part of the first incarnation of the GEM Series.
Performance notes for ELEGY:
This work is intended to be performed on either tuba or euphonium. As you can see, there are two different clefs and key signatures. Tubists should use the bass clef and key signature of two flats. Euphoniumists should read the piece in Bb treble clef, with a key signature of one sharp. This puts the euphonium version in the key of F concert, or a fifth higher than the tuba version. When it was necessary to write two different accidentals for a particular note, tubists should use the first one and euphoniumists should use the accidental in parentheses. It is important for the advanced 21st-century euphoniumist to be at home reading either bass or treble clef. If you are not experienced in reading treble clef euphonium, this work should provide a reason to gain that experience.
Please note also that there is a short, bracketed section near the end of the work that may be omitted by the performer due to range considerations. If a young player can negotiate the rest of the piece, I don’t want the fact that they may not yet have a high e-flat (tuba) or concert b-flat (euphonium) to keep them from performing it.
While an Elegy is usually sad or melancholy, this one develops into more of a sense of hope. It was my intention to create a work that tuba or euphonium soloists could perform not only in recital, but for occasions like church services, weddings, funerals, and other special events where one might want to play something lyrical and expressive but would not have the opportunity to work with an accompanist. The most important words on the page are at the beginning: Adagio-molto espressivo. Don’t hurry through this work (it takes me about 5 and a half minutes to play it), and be sure to be as expressive as possible. While I have made numerous dynamic and pacing indications, there is plenty of opportunity for you to bring your own sense of “song” to each performance. I hope you find this to be a good piece to bring the beautiful sound of our low brass instruments to a wider audience.