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History of the Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association
Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association, though relatively new as a named organization, had its beginnings in New York City in the 1930s, when William Bell joined the NBC Symphony. In an interview with Harvey Phillips, he traced these early years for the author. Phillips stated that with such a great tubist and teacher in their presence, it was only natural for other tubists, both professional and student, to be attracted to Mr. Bell. They met informally at McSorley's Old Ale House, in Manhattan, for beer, food and friendship. Because Mr. Bell was not always available, these meetings were very irregular; sometimes twice a week or more, sometimes not for several weeks at a time.
Seated at a large, round table, the discussions concerned the tuba and how to improve its playing. At the table everyone was an equal, a part of the group. A sense of camaraderie prevailed, where all were no longer teacher or student, but people who had an interest in the tuba.
It was suggested by some members that the group should devise an official name. After much discussion around the table, Mr. Bell rumbled that they should call it the “Royal Order of ----pots” [expletive deleted]. And thus it became, complete with membership cards.1
From the ale house meetings, until his death in August of 1971, Mr. Bell is considered by Mr. Phillips to have been a major force in the organizing of tubists. His death created a tremendous void in the tuba world.2
In 1966, Robert Ryker, principal tubist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Brass Quintet, and editor of the Montreal Brass Quintet Series, sent notice to several music publications announcing an attempt to organize an official organization of tubists. He called it the Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association or T.U.B.A. for short. The Conn and Mirafone companies contributed money towards the expenses that would be incurred in mailings and printings. Three tubists were made honorary members of T.U.B.A.: William Bell, Arnold Jacobs and Harvey Phillips.
The response was greater than expected. Tubists from virtually every corner of the world began to request information from Mr. Ryker. More and more tubists wrote, so that by 1971, it became evident that one person could not handle all of the correspondence and the organizing that was necessary. On May 22-25, 1971, an informal committee, comprised of Robert Ryker, R. Winston Morris and
J. Lesley Varner met at the Ball State University Student Center to draw up a proposed constitution and plan the structuring of the early directions of T.U.B.A.3 with regards to commissions, workshops, and the resource library. At the end of this meeting, the committee decided to call for a general meeting of participating members at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, in December of 1971. With the formation of the international organization in May, the December meeting saw the formation of an ad hoc committee to study constitutional matters for the North American Chapter of T.U.B.A. Harvey Phillips was elected chairman of the chapter. A year later, the by-laws were approved at the 1972 meeting in Chicago. This set the stage for the first International Tuba Symposium.
While in Boston, Mr. Phillips had approached Gunther Schuller about using the Tanglewood facilities for a conference of tubists. Schuller stated that Tanglewood could not accommodate such an influx of people. In 1971, Mr. Phillips came to Indiana University and immediately started seeking permission to hold a tuba symposium. Permission was granted for him to offer the school as the site for the First International Tuba Symposium, to be held May 22-26, 1973. A planning committee was formed, consisting of Dan Perantoni, J. Lesley Varner,
R. Winston Morris, David Kuehn, Harvey Phillips, and Barton Cummings.4
In 1973, the first complete, official election was held. The officers elected were Robert Eliason--lnternational President (replacing Robert Ryker), Dan Perantoni--North American Chairman (replacing Harvey Phillips), Barton Cummings—Secretary, David Kuehn—Treasurer, R. Winston Morris--Publications Coordinator, Raymond Young--Tenor Tuba Coordinator (later to be as Euphonium Coordinator), and Robert Pallansch--Coordinator of Tuba Design. The first organizational newsletter appeared in the spring of this year.
The First International Tuba Symposium-Workshop is viewed by many as the point at which T.U.B.A. really got off the ground. The planning committee decided that the symposium should not be just for tubists, but for all people to whom the tuba is important, and hence, are important to the tuba.5
Reaching composers was a main part of the symposium’s objectives.
T.U.B.A. wanted to reach composers to tell them that there was a whole country full of tubists ready to play their music, not just a handful of top professionals.6 The symposium resulted in about 150 compositions for the tuba, in Mr. Phillips’ estimation, as well as a large rise in the performance level of the tuba since then.7
Those also invited to the symposium were conductors, teachers, professionals, and representatives from tuba-making companies. These companies were given free booth space so that the sessions on tuba design could be critical and objective without worrying about offending a fee-paying exhibitor's product.8 Three of the many outstanding names in music present were conductor William Revelli and composers Alec Wilder and Gunther Schuller.
During and after the symposium there was a large campaign for the establishment of local chapters and chapters throughout the world. Leading this campaign were both North American Chairman Dan Perantoni and International President Robert Eliason. An advisory board was formed, to be headed by the past president. It was decided to adopt the serpent as the symbol of T.U.B.A., eliminating the problem of choosing an acceptable tuba design and stating historical origin in the same choice.
Harvey Phillips again showed his creativity by sponsoring with the William Bell Memorial Chapter of Indiana University, the first Octubafest, and a festive series of concerts featuring the tuba and coinciding with German Octoberfest time.
Starting 1974’s activities off was the Tennessee Technological University Fourth Annual Tuba-Euphonium Symposium on January 19. Many universities began sponsoring chapter activities such as workshops and Octubafests. One such workshop was held April 19-21 at Ball State University. Some of those present were Thomas Beversdorf, Robert Eliason, Ronald Bishop, Brian Bowman, and Abe Torchinsky. Sessions were held concerning New Music and the Electronic Studio, Ancient Instruments, and solo and orchestral performance.9
T.U.B.A. chapters began approaching composers to commission new works for the tuba and the euphonium, as well as for ensembles. 1974 was a year of growth and expansion for T.U.B.A.
Now things began to happen for the tubist. Two major events highlighted 1975: a major recital series in the Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City, and the first National Tuba-Euphonium Symposium-Workshop. The first was instigated by Harvey Phillips; a series of five recitals in January. But this project free booth space so that the sessions on did not come into full bloom until September 29, when he presented Roger Bobo (who had performed the first tuba recital in the hall in April of 1961) , followed by Dan Perantoni (October 29), John Turk (November 29), and Mr. Phillips’ own performance on December 22. The series continued into 1976 with Robert Whaley (January 9), J. Lesley Varner (January 18) , Barton Cummings ( February 15) , the Tennessee Technological University Tuba Ensemble with R. Winston Morris, (March 13), Brian Bowman (March 28), and Floyd Cooley (April 25) .
The second event, a National Symposium-Workshop, was held at the University of Illinois, May 20-24. It presented prominent professionals and students in recital. It also gave players a chance to be evaluated in their performance by top professionals and teachers. Some of the performers present were Arnold Jacobs, Harvey Phillips, Roger Bobo, Rich Matteson, and the tuba ensembles from Tennessee Technological and North Texas State Universities.
Officers elected in 1975 were: R. Winston Morris (President), J. Lesley Varner (Vice President), Don C. Little (Secretary-Treasurer), Earle Louder (Euphonium Coordinator), and Robert Whaley (Publications Coordinator). With this election came the combining of the international group and the North American Group into one group.10 In this same year, the Brass Press of Nashville, Tennessee began publishing a T.U.B.A. Series of new music. It was available by subscription, whereby a member would receive a new publication at regular intervals through the year. This helped to support some of the new music being written for the tuba and helped to get it out to those who wished to play and study the new works being written for the tuba.
Besides the recital series and the symposium, T.U.B.A. actively began planning for the promotion of regional workshops to be held during the 1975-76 school year. These workshops were held in several parts of the country, including the Mid-South (at Bowling Green, Kentucky) and the Mid-West (Chadron, Nebraska) Regions. Tubists also took part in brass workshops and the International Brass Symposium in Montreaux, Switzerland, as well as performing as groups at places as diverse as Disneyland and Carnegie Recital Hall.
In five years, T.U.B.A. has grown from an ad hoc committee meeting in Muncie, Indiana, to an organization which has members allover the world, ranging from the beginner to the best professional.
This article is the second half of a graduate course paper written by Mr. Leeka in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts Degree at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana. The title of the original paper is, “Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association—A Survey and Short History of the First Five Years, 1971-1976.” Mr. Leeka is a student of J. Lesley Varner.
T.U.B.A. Journal Vol. V, No. 1, Fall, 1977, 14-161 1. Phillips. Harvey, personal interview. 2 Ibid.
3 Varner, J. Lesley, personal interview.4 Phillips, Harvey, op. cit.5 Ibid.
6 Perantoni, Dan, personal interview.
7 Phillips, Harvey, op. cit.8 Ibid.
9 Varner, J. Lesley, op. cit.10 Ibid.