Date of Graduation
College of Creative Arts
As the most recent brass instrument to be added to the standard orchestra, the tuba’s solo repertoire is relatively new compared to other orchestral instruments. Ralph Vaughan Williams composed the first major concerto for tuba in 1954, over 100 years after the tuba’s creation in 1835 by Wilhelm Friedrich Wieprecht and Johann Gottfried Moritz. Though many composers — including Bruce Broughton, Eric Ewazen, Paul Hindemith, Gunther Schuller, and John Williams — have written solos for the tuba since Vaughan Williams, performers rely on arrangements and transcriptions of existing works to fill gaps in the repertoire. In 2011, Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s bass trombonist Charles Vernon arranged ten movements of Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Tuba, Gene Pokorny. Sergei Prokofiev is one of the most well-known composers of the 20th century. His works include concerti, chamber music, orchestral music, operas, and ballets; one of his most popular works is the ballet Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare’s timeless story of star-crossed lovers. He also used material from the ballet to create three orchestral suites. This performance guide serves as a detailed resource for Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 1, Op. 64, arranged for Tuba and Piano by Charles Vernon. There are many resources that provide historical details and context on the life and works of Sergei Prokofiev, but there are few performance guides for tuba solos, let alone transcriptions of his works. Though the breadth of literature on tuba solos is limited, what is available will be referenced as best as possible. This paper fills a gap in tuba performance guides and provides a needed resource for tubists. There have been transcriptions of Romeo and Juliet movements for other instruments, including trombone, piano, and viola, but no performance guide or literature can be found for tuba. Since Romeo and Juliet was written for orchestra, there are many things to consider when performing a transcription. The player should know what instrument the original melody was written for to inform musical decisions, what character is represented by the theme they are playing, and what drama is accompanying that movement. This arrangement is for solo tuba and piano, so important orchestral lines are played by the piano. This guide helps decipher when the “solo” voice has the melody and is playing a background role. There are also technical challenges since the piece was not originally written for the tuba. In addition to the analysis of the transcription itself, the tuba player will run into technically challenging aspects of the music. The included practice guide gives the tubist a path toward working through the difficulties with various methods, techniques, and practice tools to aid in learning the piece. The first resources referenced in this paper are books, dissertations, and articles related to the composer Sergei Prokofiev and his music. These are used for historical context and biographical context. These also provide information on his ballets, including Romeo and Juliet. Performance guides for other solos are also examined to illustrate past approaches and ideas. The second methodology predominately used in this paper are musical scores of the original orchestral parts to Romeo and Juliet and the Charles Vernon tuba solo. Scores of Prokofiev’s earlier works are also cited in order to understand how he usually wrote for the tuba in an orchestral setting. Analysis of the original ballet score alongside the Vernon arrangement provides important information for the performer on the similarities and differences between the two.
DiCesare, John Christopher, "A Performance Guide To Prokofiev: Romeo And Juliet For Solo Tuba" (2021). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8149.