The euphonium is a valved brass instrument with a tapered bore and elliptically-coiled tubing. Its design is similar to the tuba although it is much smaller with a higher range. The euphonium is often regarded as the tenor member of the tuba family. Like all brass instruments, the euphonium is sounded by the vibration of the player’s lips. It is most often pitched in Bb (its fundamental note is Bb without the use of valves) and utilizes a deep, cup-shaped mouthpiece. Its music is notated in bass clef at concert pitch or, in some band and orchestral literature, in treble clef, a major ninth above the sounding note. The euphonium’s range is from “BB” to “b-flat1”. Although the euphonium is different than the trombone in that it uses valves rather than a slide, many instrumentalists play both euphonium and trombone because of their otherwise similar physical demands.
Tenor range brass instruments such as the tenor tuba, baritonhorn, and tenorhorn, which preceded the euphonium first appeared in Europe around 1830, and were designed with three valves used to alter the length of the instrument, allowing for the production of different notes. The modern day baritone and euphonium are often confused with one another. The main difference between the two is that the tubing of the euphonium is of a wider bore which creates a more mellow sound. The present-day euphonium typically has four valves (piston or rotary in type) with a bell which is directed upwards. It is particularly popular among military and other bands because of its rich timbre and agility in the tenor register much like that of the cello within an orchestra. Although the euphonium is typically used as a band instrument, composers occasionally write orchestral pieces with parts for tenor tuba which are played on euphonium. Examples include works such as Don Quixote by Richard Strauss, The Planets by Gustav Holst, and Janacek’s Sinfonietta. The euphonium is also continually earning greater respect as a solo instrument due to the growing number of fine euphonium soloists such as Steven Mead and Dr. Brian Bowman