Harvey Phillips, The 'Paganini Of The Tuba,' Dies At 81

NPR's Robert Siegel and Melissa Block have this remembrance of Harvey Phillips, called the "Paganini of the Tuba." He died Wednesday at age 81 in Bloomington, Ind. In 2007, while serving as distinguished professor emeritus at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, he added another honor to one of the most remarkable careers in modern American musical history. He became the first brass player and first wind player chosen for induction into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame.

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(Soundbite of song, "Georgia on My Mind")

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

The man known as the Paganini of the Tuba has died. Harvey Phillips was 81 years old. You're hearing Phillips with a small ensemble playing the Hoagy Carmichael classic "Georgia on My Mind."

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Harvey Phillips' tuba virtuoso started his career somewhere you might not expect - with the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus Band. Then he ran away from the circus to study at the Juilliard School of Music.

SIEGEL: In 2007, Harvey Phillips became the first wind instrument player inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. Phillips became a tuba ambassador, performing classical jazz and pop tunes. He created tuba concerts, one called Oct-Tuba Fest.

BLOCK: In 1975, a New Yorker profile said of him: The ongoing elevation of the tuba, from the laughingstock of musical instruments to one of its kings, is mainly the doing of Harvey Phillips.

Harvey Phillips had Parkinson's disease. He died yesterday at his home in Bloomington, Indiana.

(Soundbite of song, "Georgia on My Mind")

SIEGEL: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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