Newsletter of the American Brass Band Association
Autumn 2002 (revised
Euphonium and Baritone
The Euphonium is a tenor tuba in 9 foot Bb. The mouthpiece is cup shaped and deeper than that preferred
The Euphonium was invented by Sommers of Weimar about 1843. The root derivation of the word comes
from the Greek meaning "great voiced." The immediate prototype of the Euphonium was a tenorbasshorn in Bb from around 1820.
In Berlin, Carl Wilhelm Moritz built a tenorbasshorn with a wider bore and four valves, giving a wider range. Sommer;s invention,
the Sommerphone followed. A similar instrument was that of Hall of Brno, the" HellHorn"! The Hellhorn and the Sommerphone
were both exhibited at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London.
There were several variations of the Sommerphone in the
Mid-nineteenth Century. This resulted in the Euphonium becoming the most important deep brass instrument in bands.
are right facing instruments with top valves, helicon shaped instruments, and left facing instruments with rotary valves.
The fourth valve may be in line, as in right facing instruments or (more commonly), positioned for left hand operation.
The twin belled or "double belled" euphonium was the most successful duplex type instrument. It combined qualities
of euphonium and valve trombone.
The euphonium is also represented in the marching brass family. The marching euphonium
is shaped like a trumpet.
It is possible to compensate pitch with slide valves on left facing and forward facing euphoniums.
Right facing instruments use the 1874 Blaikley compensating system.
Euphonium has a distinctive warm tone. It has
a valuable role as both a bass and tenor instrument. Its range is wide, and depending on the player, its extremes can be very
The Term "Baritone" is correctly applied
to the sax horn of Euphonium pitch with a less widely conical profile and only 3 valves.
Brass Band scores call for
two baritones, which give a rich textural bottom when used in harmony with three Eb tenor horns. (Eb tenor horn is the English
term for the
Eb alto saxhorn. The American term is "Eb Alto".)
The baritone is not becoming extinct. Within
a given four minute composition for band, the baritone may double the bass part, be in unison with any melody instrument,
join in inner part harmony, or sing out a countermelody. It may also assume a solo role. The added cost of the fourth valve
is worth the money because it becomes easier to bring certain notes into proper intonation.
In Italy, the three valved
Euphonium (and occasionally the four valved) is termed 'baritoneo.'
or 'bombardino.' The baritone in Italy is termed 'tenore.'
In Germany, Tenorhorn is the Bb Baritone (Bb tenorhorn). German for Euphonium is 'Baryton.'
Baritone or Euphonium?
In the 19th Century, many German musicians migrated to
the United States. Euphoniums and baritones were both produced in the United states as a result of their influence. . Until
recently the terms were interchangeable in the USA. Some manufactures offered both baritones and euphoniums with identical
bores. Today, bore and bell dimensions are distinctive for each instrument.
It is the bore of the tubing that distinguishes
baritone from Euphonium, not a 4th valve or an extra bell. The larger bore of the Euphonium produces the euphonious timbre
and favors the lower tonal range.
4th valve is used to facilitate intonation in certain note combinations. It also
pitches the instrument a fourth lower, as in the double horn, but it must be remembered that this is not the only purpose.
Compensatory valve combinations utilizing the fourth valve improve Euphonium intonation.
The Euphonium with
its richer and deeper tone is a more desirable and effective instrument than the baritone. Some people consider the Euphonium
to be the most expressive of all brass instruments. The Euphonium has both the agility and the tonal expressive power of the
cello. It should be taught as such. Students taught to imitate the sound of cello will avoid developing a weak, insipid tone
devoid of warmth.
A good vibrato is a necessary part of euphonium technique. It must be a controlled vibrato, with
the ability to start and stop when desired. Lip and diaphragmatic vibrato are most natural and suitable for Euphonium. In
pedagogy, one should not teach vibrato until the student is able to maintain a full solid, round and steady tone. If vibrato
is not controlled and stopped at will, the tone becomes monotonous.
No vibrato is used in Euphonium playing of orchestral
parts, but vibrato is used in Band. Euphonium has occasionally been seen in Jazz, and in English light orchestral music of
the 19th Century. The role of orchestral Euphonium is taken by the fourth trombonist or by a tuba player specializing in the
There are a lot of solos for Euphonium with band accompaniment. The most interesting combination
the author has heard was a rendition of a duet between Cornet and Euphonium, the parts crossing and delving into the range
of the opposite instrument. It was quite revealing to hear the cornet play in the high Euphonium range and the Euphonium playing
in the lower cornet range. This clearly demonstrated the versatility of Euphonium in range, agility, and tonal power.
of the eminent Euphonium players was Simon Mantia (1870-1951) who specialized in playing cornet solos on a twin belled Euphonium.
Baines, Anthony. Brass Instruments: Their
History and development. (London, 1966.)
Bevan, Clifford. The Tuba Family. ( London, 1978.)
Anthology: A compendium of Articles from the "Instrumentalist" on playing
Brass instruments. (1946-1974).
and Euphonium Articles Author Page
Baritone Comes of Age.' Hugh McMillen. 103.
'Euphonium, the Cello of the Band.' Leonard Falcone 94.
'Euphonium-Well Sounding.' Raymond Young. 355.
'So you Play the Euphonium?' E.J. Robbins 419.
that Fourth Valve Carson' Johnson 263.
'When is a Baritone a Euphonium?' Harold Brasch 40.
Cambridge Companion to Brass Instruments. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
New York, Melbourne. 1997.
Clifford. "The Low Brass" p. 143.
Hebert, Trevor, "Brass Bands and Other Vernacular
Brass Traditions." P. 177.
Guy, C. "Exploring the New Double-Bell Euphonium." T.U.B.A. Journal
xxiii/4 1995-96.. 69ff.
Fasman, Mark J. Brass Bibliography, Sources on the History , Literature, Pedagogy,
and Acoustics of Brass instruments. Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1990. "Baritone and Euphonium"
Heyde, H. Trompete, Posaunen, Tuba (Leipzig, 1980.)
The New Grove Dictionary of Music
and Musicians. (Edited by Stanley Sadie) 2nd Ed
Vol 8 p 417.
Article "Euphonium" by Clifford Bevan
Stephen P. " Historical Comparisons of the Euphonium and Baritone Horn."
T.U.B.A. Journal 5, No. 3
(Spring/Summer 1978, p. 5-9).
Young, Raymond "Euphoniums - Whats Happening?"
T.U.B.A. Newsletter 1, no.
3, (Spring, 1974).
Falcone, Leonard. " Is the Baritone Horn Dying? Let's hope not, but it looks that way."
School Musician, 46, May 1975: pp. 40-41.
The Shepherd's Crook
American Brass Band Association
(Extracted from Autumn 2002, revision 2013)