Harvey Phillips (1929-2010)

Harvey Phillips (1929-2010)

It is with great sadness that the tuba world learned today of the passing of one of the greatest tuba artists, teachers, and advocates that ever lived. Harvey Phillips was personally responsible for hundreds of new works for the tuba and was our instrument’s number one promoter. As a founding member of the New York Brass Quintet, his contribution to the future of brass chamber music is immeasurable, as was his generous and inspiring leadership in all things tuba. I hope that in my lifetime, I can accomplish half as much as Harvey Phillips did. Rest in peace Harvey.

Among his many achievements and contributions are:

• Founder of TubaChristmas, dedicated to his teacher and famous Iowan tuba mentor Bill Bell.

• Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Indiana University

• Co-author of the Art of Tuba and Euphonium

• 2007 Inductee into the Classical Music Hall of Fame (Indiana University)

To learn more about this great man, please read this interview transcript with Bruce Duffie.

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6 Responses to Harvey Phillips (1929-2010)

  1. Roger Rocco says:

    It was an honor to have known and worked with Harvey. I first heard him perform with the New York Brass Quintet back in the 1960s. His lyrical performances of the music of Alec Wilder had a profound influence on me. I realized that a tuba player could perform at the same level of musically as any other instrumentalist.

    Harvey elevated our status in the music world from being “second class citizens” to being respected and admired musicians. He once said of Arnold Jacobs. “He’s our national treasure.”

    Harvey was also a “national treasure” to all of who were fortunate enough to know him personally and to the countless others in the music world who will benefit from his work forever.

  2. This is a great loss to both the music and tuba world. Harvey was a giant who helped elevate the tuba to greater awareness by the public at large, and greater confidence by fellow tubaists. I will never forget hearing the Matteson-Phillips Tubajazz Consort at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago and hearing what was possible on the instrument, or the very first TUBA conference at IU in 1973. It was a pleasure to have known him.

  3. Jim Leff says:

    Younger people may not realize how transformational Harvey’s tuba events and outreach programs were. Yeah, these days that sort of thing’s cliched, even a bit corny. But back then, it was unheard of, and completely changed public conception of tuba. Every modern tuba player owes him a huge debt.

    Most visionaries who make bold, ambitious things happen do so out of ego. But not Phillips. Though he was a fantastic musician, he never released a solo recording. What he did he did out of love for the instrument and for those who play it. Yes, he got a “name” out of his efforts, but that wasn’t the aim, and he never exploited it for his personal purposes. At heart, he remained a working tuba player. He was actually a stupendous working tubist, but only musicians know that because he didn’t use his notoriety to plug his own career. None of his efforts were about him.

    And that is just so extremely rare…

  4. John Manning says:

    Thank you Jim, that’s an excellent point, and one of the many great things about Harvey.

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