program notes by composition > C > Concerto for Bass Tuba

Concerto for Bass Tuba

Ralph Vaughan Williams/arr. Denis Wick
Serena Voltz, tuba soloist, John Hersey High School ( May 5, 2013 )

Originally viewed as the eccentric idea of an aging composer, this concerto in F minor was written in 1957 by Ralph Vaughan Williams for the principal tubist of the London Symphony Orchestra. The piece has become one of Williams’ most popular works and is an essential part of the tuba repertoire for professionals.

Composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) was an influential British composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores. In 1914 at the age of 40, Ralph (pronounced “Rayf”) Vaughan Williams enlisted as a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps and had a gruelling time as a stretcher bearer before being commissioned as an artillery officer. Williams wrote that his aim in setting the songs was that they be “treated with love.” Never straying from his English roots, he sought to organically weave elements of his native music into all his compositions, rather than imitate it. One of the earliest researchers in ethnomusicology, he traveled the British countryside recording and transcribing folk music directly from its source.

Williams' music has been said to be characteristically English. It expresses a deep regard for and fascination with folk tunes, the variations upon which can convey the listener from the down-to-earth to the ethereal. Simultaneously the music shows patriotism toward England in the subtlest form, engendered by a feeling for ancient landscapes and a person's small yet not entirely insignificant place within them.

Last updated on July 18, 2013 by Palatine Concert Band