Saturday, January 9, 2010

William J. Bell

William Bell (December 25, 1902 – 1971) was the premier tuba player and teacher of tuba in America during the first half of the 20th century. From 1924 to 1937, William Bell served as Principal Tuba with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In 1921, he joined the band of John Philip Sousa. In 1937, General Electric's David Sarnoff invited conductor Arturo Toscanini to select personnel for The NBC Symphony Orchestra. William Bell was the third musician selected by Toscanini, after his concertmaster Mischa Mischakoff and principal oboe Philip Ghignatti. In 1943 he became principal tubist for the New York Philharmonic. Leopold Stokowski invited Bell to perform and narrate George Kleinsinger's "Tubby the Tuba", and to perform and sing a special arrangement of 'When Yuba Plays The Rhumba on the Tuba.' In 1955 Bell performed the American premiere of Ralph Vaughan Williams' 'Concerto for Bass Tuba and Orchestra.' He was professor of tuba at the Manhattan School of Music until 1961, and Indiana University from 1961 to 1971. Students included Harvey Phillips and R. Winston Morris.

Under the auspices of the Harvey Phillips Foundation, thousands of tubists worldwide join together each December at local Tubachristmas events in honor of not only the season, but of the life and teaching of Bill Bell. Usually played at these events is an arrangement of the Bach chorale 'Komm, süßer Tod' (Come Sweet Death), Bell's favorite chorale.

Roger Bobo...

Roger Bobo, a legendary tuba virtuoso, was born in 1938 in Los Angeles, where he started his tuba studies at the age of 12, later going to study at the Eastman School of Music. He was simultaneously appointed tubist with the Rochester Philharmonic, a post he maintained for six years until his graduation from Eastman with B.M. and M.M. degrees. In 1961 Bobo played the first-ever tuba recital at New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall to critical acclaim, firmly establishing the tuba as a solo instrument in its own right. In 1962 Bobo joined the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. In 1964 he returned to the U.S. to assume the position of tubist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a position he held for 25 years. A founding member of the Los Angeles Brass Quintet, Bobo toured and recorded extensively with that ensemble. In 1990 he moved to Italy where he taught at the Fiesole Scuola di Musica. He also taught at the Lausanne Conservatory in Switzerland and at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. He currently resides in Japan and teaches at the Musashino School of Music in Tokyo. He retired from active tuba performance in 2001 in order to devote his time to conducting and teaching.

Here's a video from YouTube of Roger Bobo playing 'Carnival of Venice' on Johnny Carson's 'Tonight Show.'

His solo and ensemble discography is extensive. He is the author of "Mastering the Tuba" published by Editions Bim (CH). While living in the USA, he was the resident conductor of the Topanga Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been a guest conductor with numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles in North America, Europe and Asia. Orchestras around the world have seen Roger Bobo as soloist, conductor and coach for brass sections preparing major symphonic repertoire. His students currently occupy positions in major symphony orchestras and universities throughout the world, and several have gone on to develop successful solo careers of their own.