The Dream, Opus 23 by Neal Corwell

Instrumentation: duo for tuba and euphonium* with CD accompaniment
(may also performed as a euphonium duo, tenor and bass trombone duo, or any combination of tuba, euphonium, trombone, or bassoon)
Copyright: 1995
Duration: 6:45 minutes
Range: EE-flat to c for tuba, and AA to d-2 for euphonium,
Difficulty: IV
Publisher: Nicolai Music
Price: $20 (price includes accompaniment CD and printed score, plus separate parts for both tuba and euphonium. Both parts include cues for the other player, plus some accompaniment cues)

a great opportunity to add to your music library!

Other Info: Premiered by Neal Corwell and Velvet Brown at the 1995 International Brass Congress in Indianapolis, Indiana.


The Dream for low brass duo with CD accompaniment was commissioned by Velvet Brown, a longtime friend of the composer. The role of each of the three "performers" (CD plus the live duo) is clearly defined, with the two brass players working in close consort to presenting and develop thematic materials, while the recorded accompaniment creates the proper atmosphere and generates diverse musical backdrops to highlight the duo in a variety of ways. All themes are derived motivically from the initial statements by the tuba and euphonium, and it is this thematic unity that holds the work together despite the tape's restless, and sometimes unexpected, shifts of mood and character.

The work opens with dissonant tone clusters droning underneath a cadenza by the duo partners. After the opening exposition, the majority of the piece is fast in tempo with the rhythm of the accompaniment punctuated by percussive sounds and driving ostinato patterns, to include the entrance of field drums at key moments to create a dramatic martial atmosphere. As the duo develops the thematic materials, brisk slurred runs, double-tonguing, and intricate rhythmic dovetailing between the two parts are the primary technical difficulties. For proper balance, the performer of the euphonium part (upper part) needs to confidently pop out isolated high notes and play strongly in the pedal register to match the intensity of the tubist (lower part).

As the name "The Dream" implies, there is a programmatic aspect to the piece. Dreams come in all varieties, are subject to numerous interpretations, and sometimes seem to make no sense at all. The listener should therefore not be surprised if some aspects of The Dream seem unexpected or even baffling. The martial character of a few sections of the piece may suggest to some that the dreamer has imagined himself to be drafted into military service (in which case perhaps the work should have been titled The Nightmare!), but in reality any interpretation is valid. The listener is free to (actually, is encouraged to) infer as much, or as little, as he or she wishes from the title of this duo.