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Mandy Clarke
IU Press

Last modified: Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New book tells life story of ‘Mr. Tuba,’ IU’s Harvey Phillips

Oct. 2, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The late tuba virtuoso Harvey Phillips tells the story of his amazing life and career with warmth and humor in "Mr. Tuba," published this week by Indiana University Press.

Phillips was Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the IU Jacobs School of Music at the time of his death in 2010. The autobiography recalls his life, including his Missouri childhood, his days as a performer with the King Brothers and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circuses, training at the Juilliard School, a stint with the U.S. Army Field Band and freelance days with the New York City Opera and Ballet.

"Harvey Phillips IS the tuba," wrote Eugene Ormandy, late conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

A founder of the New York Brass Quintet, Phillips served as vice president of the New England Conservatory of Music and became a faculty member at IU in 1971, succeeding his teacher, William Bell. The creator of an industry of TubaChristmases, Octubafests and TubaSantas, he crusaded for recognition of the tuba as a serious musical instrument, commissioning more than 200 works.

With a foreword by David N. Baker, Distinguished Professor of Music and chair of the jazz studies department at the Jacobs School, and enhanced by an extensive gallery of photographs, "Mr. Tuba" conveys Phillips' playful zest for life while documenting his important musical legacy.

Phillips was world-renowned as a tuba soloist and brass quintet member, and he was highly regarded in the musician and brass communities because his efforts brought the tuba to a much wider audience. He played several different forms of music in his career, showing many new possibilities for the tuba, and encouraged younger players to become soloists and take the instrument in new directions.

He was inducted into the Classical Music Hall of Fame in 2007 and received the Indiana University President's Medal for Excellence in 2008.