Tuesday, June 10, 2008
My Afternoon with the Euphonium
I do have this "thing" for the euphonium. I wonder if it comes from the time that I, as a third grader, sat down (cause that's what you do with the instrument) with my music teacher Miss Humphrey after school one afternoon, and learned how to play what she called "the bass horn." The instrument I played looked a great deal like the one in this picture, but it had a mouthpiece. I imagine that my teacher found the instrument somewhere in the music room of my old school. The "bass horn" was cold, and it was really heavy in my hands and lap. I remember how horrible it smelled and how awkward it was to play: the buzzing thing was very foreign to my young lips. It also required reading the bass clef, which was really pushing the envelope for me at the time.
It was still fun, and I loved spending afternoons after school with my teacher. I recall only spending one afternoon with the "bass horn," and from that single experience I have ultimate respect for anyone who can play the instrument beautifully, or even competently. The first time I heard it played really beautifully was in the middle of a Holst Suite that we played in high school band (I can't remember the name of its player, but I do remember that he also played the viola). I always get a special thrill every time I hear a euphonium solo in any orchestral piece. I also love the name of the instrument. Euphonium sounds so, well, euphonius. I think it is a serious improvement over "bass horn."
I am proud to have contributed two pieces (thus far) to the repertoire, the latest of which I have just put on my thematic catalog. It is a work for euphonium and piano, and is dedicated to the British euphonium soloist Charley Brighton.