Harvey Phillips Tuba-Euphonium Quartet Composition Contest
The Harvey Phillips Tuba-Euphonium Quartet Composition Contest was established to maintain a contest to encourage the composition of new works for the tuba and euphonium chamber repertoire. Harvey Phillips is credited for putting the tuba on the map as a solo instrument. He either commissioned or inspired more than 200 solo and chamber music pieces, and once said, "I'm determined that no great composer is ever again going to live out his life without composing a major work for tuba." The Harvey Phillips Tuba-Euphonium Quartet Composition Contest carries on Phillips' legacy as a fierce promoter of the tuba instrument family.
Phillips was born in 1929, the youngest of 10 children, in Aurora, Missouri. After graduating from high school, Phillips worked a summer job playing tuba with the King Bros. Circus. Although he left to attend the University of Missouri, Phillips quickly went back to playing tuba for another circus, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He spent the next three years with the Ringling band.
It was during a circus trip in New York that he met the tuba player of the New York Philharmonic, William Bell. Soon after, Bell arranged for Phillips to study with him at the Juilliard School. After spending two years in the United States Army Field Band, Phillips returned to New York and became a successful freelancer, playing with the New York City Opera and New York City Ballet orchestras.
In New York, Phillips formed the New York Brass Quintet, helping the brass quintet genre and instrumentation expand. He also inspired what is known as TubaChristmas, a concert performed by musicians who play instruments in the tuba family, held in the ice skating rink in New York City's Rockefeller Center. It was initially organized as a tribute to his teacher, William Bell, but has continued to inspire other TubaChristmases throughout cities worldwide.
Known for his entrepreneurial abilities and spirit, Phillips served as the orchestra contractor for Leopold Stokowski, Igor Stravinsky, Gunther Schuller, and others. He also served as vice president for financial affairs at the New England Conservatory when Schuller became president. Phillips also contributed to the formation of the International Tuba Euphonium Association. In 2007, he was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame, as the only wind player to receive the honor.
Phillips joined the faculty at the Jacobs School of Music in 1971, and was a Distinguished Professor of Tuba until his retirement in 1994. He dedicated his life to the study and promotion of the tuba, and was recognized for his efforts by the IU President Michael McRobbie with the President's Medal for Excellence in 2008.