Posted by Jay Bertolet on August 29, 1999 at 11:03:42:
In Reply to: Re: Various Tuba stuff... posted by Archie c. on August 29, 1999 at 10:08:16:
Actually, the performance practice of the era was that a designation of "tuba" meant the french tuba or F tuba, a designation of "bass-tuba" meant F tuba, and a designation of "contrabass-tuba" meant CC or BBb tuba. Wagner tended to be very specific about the exact equipment used in his pieces so these designations can be very helpful in making the determination. Since the designation of "bass-tuba" is present in the Prelude to the 3rd Act of Meistersinger, my guess is that Wagner intended an F tuba to be used for this opera. That would also be consistent with his early operas, like Rienzi, The Flying Dutchman, Tannhauser, Lohengrin, et al. It isn't until you get to the Ring cycle that he starts using the "contrabass-tuba" specifically and the parts, like the Ride and Gotterdammerung, reflect that thinking.
I tend to make value judgements of this sort based on composer expectations. It helps to remember that not only was Wagner specific about his instrumentation, but that the typical German tubist (even to this day) used an F tuba as the primary instrument. While you can always be creative as a musician and put your own spin on the works you perform, I think there is something to be said for being historically accurate and true to the composer's wishes.