William Melton: The Wagner Tuba - a History (Edition Ebenos)
The Wagner Tuba was conceived in 1853. The literature about the Wagner Tuba "consists mainly of assertions either dubious or erroneous", according to Hans Kunitz. William Melton decided to dig into the historical material to and give the Wagner tubas extensive treatment.
From the ancient bronze age Nordic horn called "lur", William Melton takes the readers on a journey through Wagner's vision, his use of it in the Ring, the use of Wagner tubas by composers like Anton Bruckner, Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky and by contemporary composers.
The first notation of the Valhalla motif was scored for "tromboned, dolce", but in the orchestra draft replaced the instrumentation to "Tuben". In Wagner's first pencil score of Das Rheingold, the opening of scene 2 (with the Valhalla motif) calls for two Tenor Tubas in E flat, and Bass and Baritone Tubas in B flat.
The Wagner Tubas goes under various names. In Germany alone one can see them being called:
William Melton (b. Philadelphia, 1954) was a horn pupil of Sinclair Lott (a protegé of Alfred Brain and Otto Klemperer) and a graduate student in historical musicology at UCLA. He has been a career hornist with the Sinfonie Orchester Aachen in Germany since 1982. He is also a charter member of two horn quartets, ”Die Aachener Hornisten” and ”The Rhenish Horns”, and has toured with them in hundreds of performances on three continents. Melton has twice won the International Horn Society's ”Harold Meek Award” for scholarly articles, he translates books from the German for Schott Music International, and is the author of ”Engelbert Humperdinck: An Odyssey through Wilhelmine Germany”, which will be published shortly by Toccata Press (London).
Horn Societies recommending "The Wagner Tuba"
THE HORN CALL February 2009 (International Horn Society),
"[An] almost unbelievable level of research, using a truly amazing number of primary and secondary sources. This is what true scholarship is all about, and the result is a truly authoritative resource for the Wagner tuba, and an inspiration to those who appreciate the act of conducting research. Even just reading the footnotes is totally thrilling ... I offer my highest recommendation, for its content and as an example of the type of work scholars (and scholar-wannabes) should emulate."
THE HORN PLAYER Autumn 2008 (British Horn Society)
"This is a significant book which has been carefully researched ... The author makes a very good job of separating fact from fiction during the early history of the instrument ... Melton also deals lucidly with the question of transpositions used in the Ring scores ... Altogether this is a much needed, fascinating and well written book. Highly recommended."
William Melton: The Wagner Tuba: A History
Aachen, Germany: Edition Ebenos, 2008
Illustrations, music examples, bibliographic references