1.1 Motivation and objectives of the research

Research question: do horn players have the means to understand, play and adapt to the Wagner tuba?


Firstly, it is important to make it clear that the research stems from my own ignorance about the Wagner tuba. Since the beginning of my higher education studies, it has been an instrument that I have not had access to and have not been able to experience, making it something distant that has never sparked much interest for me. It's uncommon for a young horn player to own a Wagner tuba, and few conservatories have it available (due to its limited repertoire and the lack of specialists and subjects dedicated to its teaching). Therefore, in my case and that of many other horn players, getting to know the Wagner tuba thoroughly is not usually an easy task.


However, this situation changed in my favor when I started my research master's at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. I became aware of the opportunity it presented by having this instrument available. It was then that I decided to delve deeply into its study. Thus, one of the main objectives of the research is to fill the gap of ignorance I have and take a step further in my development as an orchestral musician by getting to know, exploring, and working with the Wagner tuba.


The research, of course, does not have as its sole objective my own development. Another of its main objectives is also to provide horn players with knowledge about the Wagner tuba in an efficient and quick manner. Often, horn players must take on the role of the Wagner tuba (mainly in orchestras) without having received prior education on it. This directly impacts the training of students who may feel lost when they reach a point in their careers where they have to interpret this role. Even though the repertoire for the Wagner tuba may be limited, it would be unusual for a horn players career to never encounter it. For instance, the national youth orchestra of the Netherlands (Nationaal Jeugdorkest, NJO) programmed Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" in the winter of 2023 (featuring two Wagner tubas), and in 2024, Bruckner's Ninth Symphony is scheduled (with four Wagner tubas). This is just an example of how easily a young horn player may find themselves facing this role.


Therefore, I consider this research necessary and useful for all those horn players who have never received training with the Wagner tuba and find themselves in the situation of interpreting it "from one day to the next". It is true that any horn player with a good level on it may be capable of playing the Wagner tuba, as they are not instruments that are so different. However, I believe that to interpret it at a professional level and not discredit the instrument, horn players should have some basic knowledge about the instrument before starting to play it. Ultimately, the goal of the research is also to provide insights into the instrument that go beyond the ability to play it.


The last of the reasons, which should not go unnoticed, is that orchestras offering horn job positions (especially in operas) often require to have knowledge of the Wagner tuba, and they may even request its interpretation during auditions. Therefore, I consider it of special interest for a horn player aspiring to work in an orchestra (one of the most sought-after professions in today's times) to have at least some training with it. With this research, I would like to provide all of them with an educational guide that is both practical and intellectual, helping them to develop artistically and enrich their knowledge.