The Furies, Opus 24 by Neal Corwell

Instrumentation: 8-part tuba-euphonium ensemble
Copyright: 1995
Duration: 7:45
Difficulty: IV
: Nicolai Music
Price: $30 (full score & parts)
recorded by: The definitive recording was made by Neal Corwell and Velvet Brown (Heart of a Wolf CD, Nicolai Music), and another excellent performance was recorded by Symphonia for their first CD (Symphonia CD, Mark Records)
Other Info: Premiered by Symphonia tuba-euphonium ensemble at 1995 Arizona Brass Symposium in Tucson, Arizona.


The "Furies", mythical characters found in many of the Classic Greek tragedies, were the inspiration for this composition. These menacing creatures are usually depicted with bloodshot eyes, robes of black, and snake-like hair. Their function in these plays is to seek revenge for those that have been murdered. The music is therefore appropriately ominous, foreboding, and sometimes even threatening in nature.

The Furies was premiered by Symphonia at the ensemble's debut performance and also included on that ensemble’s first CD recording. Although the composer had already written numerous compositions involving low brass by 1995, this was his first work for tuba ensemble.

As intended, this composition is challenging for the performers and entertaining for audiences. Constantly changing ensemble textures and shifting meters, along with a few non-traditional musical tools such as mouthpiece slaps and shouts, keep the audience (and ensemble members) on the edges of their seats, eager to hear what is going to happen next. An emphasis on polyphonic textures and dovetailed musical lines is used to create clarity in the presentation of musical ideas and fight against the ponderous and muddy effect that can so easily dominate musical performances by large low-brass ensembles.