Instruments | Bass Tuba | Late Romantic | Classical
The invention of valves meant that brass instruments could now explore the bass register, and soon after 1835 bass tubas started being manufactured in Germany. Essentially a keyed bugle by descent, the bass tuba (confusingly, the name tuba comes from the Latin word for trumpet) has a very wide conical bore and as a result requires a good deal of puff. Although the modern instrument is oval with a vertical-facing bell, some mid-nineteenth-century instruments were longer and thinner in overall design, with less of the tubing wound up. In the symphony orchestra, the tuba gradually replaced the ophicleide, on which it was in part based, and was written for by Wagner, Richard Strauss and Mahler. Vaughan Williams’s tuba concerto of 1954 remains an unusual – though not unique – work for it as a solo instrument.
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