IS IT A HORN OR A TUBA?
posted by James Reel
About 20 years ago, I was chatting with Robert Bernhardt, who was then the music director of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, and noted that with his strong interest in Mahler it was a little surprising that he showed little inclination to perform Bruckner (who actually has more in common with Wagner than with Mahler, but never mind). Bruckner's Seventh Symphony, I suggested, might be a good choice to do with the TSO, since it's one of his most admired symphony and has good tunes, but is relatively compact, compared to the composer's Fifth and Eighth. Bob demurred, pointing out that the score requires four Wagner tubas, which would be hard to get in Tucson. This argument was a little bit of a dodge, since it's common to substitute euphoniums for the Wagner tubas, but what, you may ask, is a Wagner tuba, anyway? Barbara Jepson of The Wall Street Journal explains all.