Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra

Duration: 21′
Orchestration: Solo Tu.; 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 2 2 – 4 3 3(B.Tbn.) 0; Timp. 2Perc. Str.
Commission: Commission by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra for its tubist, David Saltzman.
Premiere: October 20, 2018. David Saltzman, tuba, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Alain Trudel, conductor; Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle, Toledo, OH
Movements: I. Cantilation
II. Scherzo — Cadenza
III. Finale

Program Note:
The Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra was written on a commission from the Toledo Symphony Orchestra for its tubist David Saltzman in 2017. It is a work in three movements with a cadenza between the second and third movements.

There are too few concertos for tuba and orchestra, probabl y because the tuba as an instrument that we know today was not perfected technically until the latter part of the nineteenth century. Also, before the twentieth century it was not considered a solo instrument, though, especially with composers like Wagner, Strauss, and Mahler it is a most important member of their orchestras.

I was delighted to write a concerto for tuba because it does possess all the possibilities found in a solo instrument. It has lyrical qualities in all its registers, and with today’s excellent tubists it is an instrument that can have excellent dexterity. Therefore I have divided my concerto into three movements. The first is called Cantilation and shows off the lyrical qualities of the instrument with free flowing song-like phrases accompanied by similar music in the orchestra. There is constant dialogue between soloist and the orchestral forces, the latter sometimes foreshadowing, sometimes repeating gestures of the soloist.

The second movement, entitled Scherzo, as well as the Finale are written to demonstrate the great versatility of the tuba. Both are ‘fast and furious’ but often whimsical and always bright in nature and demand great virtuosity from both the soloist and the orchestral forces.

Separating the two fast movements is a very lyrical slow cadenza. Usually a cadenza is included to demonstrate the virtuosity of the performer, however, since that will be the case in the second and last movement, I felt I wanted to give the soloist another opportunity to emphasize the beauty and the lyrical side of this neglected solo instrument and also a chance to ‘sing’ by himself. The work is about twenty minutes long.

The tuba concerto is scored for three flutes with one doubling on piccolo, two oboes and English horn, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns,three trumpets, two trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, two percussion, and strings.

–Samuel Adler