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The William Bell Tuba Solo Collection

Eight Classic Solos for the Student Tubist Composed or Arranged by William Bell

By Johann Sebastian Bach

Chamber Tuba, Piano
Eight Classic Solos for the Student Tubist Composed or Arranged by William Bell. Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), Robert Schumann, George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), and William Bell. Edited by William Bell. Arranged by William Bell. SWS. Collection. With Standard notation. 48+16 pages. Carl Fischer Music #WF79. Published by Carl Fischer Music (CF.WF79).

Item Number: CF.WF79

9 X 12 inches.

This edition is a unique collection of eight well-known solos for tuba and piano by one of the premier American tuba players and teachers of the twentieth century. Throughout his long and illustrious career, William J. Bell composed and arranged numerous pieces for tuba and piano accompaniment often with a pedagogic purpose in mind. This collection features four of Bell's compositions that are often witty and, of course, all idiomatically written for the tuba. The four arrangements cover the Baroque period (Bach), the Classical period (Beethoven) and the Romantic period (Schumann and Goltermann) providing a varied span of styles. Included in this publication are downloadable audio files of the piano accompaniments -- a practical solution for the practice of these pieces and an enjoyable incentive.
William John Bell was and is still considered to be one of the premier American tuba players and teachers of the twentieth century. He was born in 1902 to non-musical parents in Creston, Iowa. At the age of ten, Bell began playing the tuba--the exact circumstances for his choice of this instrument tuba remain unknown--in a local amateur band composed primarily of young boys. He progressed so rapidly on the instrument that he was invited to tour with a professional band at the age of fourteen and continued touring at age fifteen, after he was accepted on full scholarship at the University of South Dakota. His notoriety as a tuba virtuoso spread rapidly, such that in 1921, at the tender age of nineteen, Bell joined John Philip Sousa's band; Sousa, in fact, accepted Bell without an audition. In 1923, the conductor Fritz Reiner invited Bell to serve as the principal tuba player of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He held this position until 1937, while simultaneously teaching tuba performance at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. During these years, he made occasional appearances in Edwin Franko Goldman's band in New York City and Arthur Pryor's Asbury Park Municipal Band. In 1937, Bell was selected by Arturo Toscanini to be the principal tuba player of the newly formed NBC Symphony Orchestra. Bell, in fact, was the third musician to be selected, following the concertmaster and the principal oboist, and Toscanini, renowned for his belittlement of professional orchestral players, repeatedly extolled the virtues of Bell's playing. Six years later, Bell became the principal tuba player of the New York Philharmonic. In 1955, Bell presented the American premiere of Ralph Vaughan Williams' Concerto for Bass Tuba and Orchestra at the composer's request. Bell spent the final decade of his life as professor of tuba performance at Indiana University, resigning from this post in the year of his death in 1971. Bell's significance in American tuba playing and pedagogy can be seen in the tribute that is paid to him each Christmas--he was born on Christmas day in 1902--at the "TubaChristmas" event. Founded in 1974 by his pupil Harvey Phillips, the event features hundreds of tuba and euphonium players from around the world who gather to commemorate the Bell's achievement. Bell composed and arranged numerous pieces for tuba and piano accompaniment, eight of which are featured in this collection. His fondness for music of the Baroque period can be seen in his arrangement of Bach's chorale Komm, susser Tod (Air), purported to be one of Bell's favorite of the Bach chorales, and the Bourree from Bach's Second Violin Sonata. He was also appreciative of the music of Handel and thus transcribed Beethoven's youthful variations on a theme from Handel's oratorio Judas Maccabeus. The music of the nineteenth century was also a source of appeal for Bell, as can be seen in his virtuoso arrangement of Schumann's The Jolly Farmer and the lesser known Concerto in G Major for cello by Georg Goltermann. Bell's character could be cheeky at times, and it is probably for this reason Leopold Stokowski invited him to play and narrate the part of George Kleinsinger's Tubby the Tuba with the New York City Symphony Orchestra in 1944. This aspect of Bell's personality is reflected in his own compositions for tuba and piano, such as the duple-meter Jig Elephantine--the quaint modifier no doubt indicative of the bulk of the instrument--and Low Down Bass "...a rollicking, joyous type well suited to the bass register." Bell's Nautical Medley is a pleasant, crowd-pleasing adaptation of three well-known sea tunes.

  • Ratings + Reviews

  • 3

    Clarkston, WA
    Difficulty Level:
  • January 17, 2011 Okay, but put together poorly . . . .

    Piano accomp. with some fun pieces, but pieces are not even in sequence in the book, and there are places where the CD must be stopped for a tuba cadenza, then re-started. Worthwhile, but it could have been put together a whole-lot better.

    14 of 29 people found this review helpful.
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