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Reflections on the Mississippi for Tuba and Band

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Michael Daugherty

Michael Daugherty

General Info

Year: 2013 / 2015
Duration: c. 20:50
Grade: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Bill Holab Music
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental


1. Mist - 5:45
2. Fury - 3:35
3. Prayer 6:35
4. Steamboat - 4:30


Full Score
Solo Tuba
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
C Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium I-II
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bell Tree
  • Castanets
  • Chimes
  • Crotales
  • Glockenspiel
  • Kick Drum
  • Marimba
  • Mark Tree
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine (small)
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Vibra-slap
  • Washboard
  • Whip
  • Wood Block
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This notes pertain to the orchestral version, premiered in 2013.

Reflections on the Mississippi (2013) for tuba and orchestra was commissioned by the Temple University Boyer College of Music and Dance. The world premiere was given by the Temple University Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Luis Biava, with Carol Jantsch, solo tuba, at Verizon Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 24, 2013.

This concerto, composed in memory of my father, Willis Daugherty (1929-2011), is a musical reflection on family trips during my childhood to the Mississippi River near McGregor, Iowa. In July and October 2012, I returned to the Mississippi to make two road trips from McGregor to Hannibal, Missouri. Along the “Great River Road,” I explored small river towns and snapped photographs of scenic river vistas. Local boat owners also guided me to the secluded wildlife havens and murky backwaters of the Mississippi River. All the while, I was collecting sounds, musical ideas and an emotional framework for my tuba concerto.

The tuba concerto is 20 minutes in duration, and in four movements:

In the first movement of the concerto, Mist, I reflect on sunrise as seen and heard through a misty haze over the Mississippi River. After an opening ripple, the tuba intones a mystical melody that ascends through shimmering orchestral chords. An ostinato is introduced in a musical canon by percussion, piano and tuba, followed by a dark second theme that rises from the depths of the string section punctuated by woodwinds. At the end of the movement, the ostinato returns in the timpani and is combined with the misty opening melody of the tuba.

The title of the second movement, Fury, recalls the turmoil of the Mississippi River in the fiction of William Faulkner and in the history of the “Great Mississippi Flood” of 1927. Like the jarring time shifts in Faulkner’s 1927 novel The Sound and the Fury, the music I have created consists of dissonant harmonies, turbulent polyrhythms, and clashing 3/4 and 5/4 time signatures performed simultaneously.

In Prayer, the third movement, I meditate on the calm mood of the Mississippi River seen from a high vista, overlooking the water as far as the eye can see, as sunset turns into a clear and starry night. Glockenspiel, vibraphone, chimes and piano echo like distant church bells down in the valley, while the tuba plays a lyrical, soulful melody. In a musical flashback, I evoke material from the first movement to remind us of the timeless currents of the Mississippi River.

The final movement, Steamboat, conjures up colorful tales from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain (1835-1910). Traveling down the Mississippi River, I have composed lively music that follows the gambling steamboats from Twain’s hometown in Hannibal, Missouri, to the final stop in New Orleans. Much as the tuba plays a central role in zydeco and second line music of New Orleans, the tuba soloist in my concerto leads a “second line” of syncopated rhythms that propel the concerto to a virtuosic conclusion.

- Program Note by composer

A band version of Reflections on the Mississippi was commissioned by the University of Michigan Symphony Band, under the direction of Michael Haithcock, in 2015, and premiered by University of Michigan Symphony Band, conducted by Michael Haithcock, and Carol Jantsch, solo tuba. The piece was written in memory of the composer's father.



To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Kansas State University (Manhattan) Wind Ensemble (Frank Tracz, conductor; Christopher Hovis, tuba) - 23 April 2023
  • Texas Woman's University (Denton) Wind Symphony (Carter Biggers, conductorl Keith Packman, tuba) - 11 November 2022
  • Oklahoma State University (Stillwater) Wind Ensemble (Joseph Missal, conductor; Ryan Robinson, tuba) – 18 February 2020
  • Ohio University (Athens) Wind Symphony (William Talley, conductor; Jason Smith, tuba) – 5 December 2019
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Symphonic Band (Eric M. Smedley, conductor; Lucas Davey, tuba) – 18 April 2019
  • University of Kentucky (Lexington) Wind Symphony (John Cody Birdwell, conductor; Matt Hightower, tuba) – 13 April 2019
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Wind Ensemble (Emily Threinen, conductor; Steven Campbell, tuba) – 2 May 2018
  • Florida State University (Tallahassee) Symphonic Band (Patrick Dunnigan, conductor; Justin Benavidez, tuba) – 16 April 2018
  • Baylor University (Waco, Tx.) Wind Symphony (Thomas Caneva and Joseph Parisi, conductors; Kent Eschelman, tuba) - 9 March 2018 (83rd Annual ABA National Convention)
  • Baylor University (Waco, Texas) Wind Ensemble (J. Eric Wilson, conductor; Kent Eshelman, tuba) – 1 March 2018
  • The University of Southern Mississippi (Hattisburg) Wind Ensemble (Catherine Rand, conductor) – 23 February 2018 (CBDNA 2018 Southern Conference, Tampa, Fla.)
  • Eastman Wind Orchestra (Rochester, N.Y.) (Mark Davis Scatterday, conductor; Grant O'Brien, tuba) – 31 January 2018
  • Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (John E. Williamson, conductor; Mark Cox, tuba) – 17 October 2017
  • Dallas (Tex.) Winds (Jerry Junkin, conductor; Charles Villarrubia, tuba) – 19 September 2017
  • Illinois State University (Normal) Wind Symphony (Joe Manfredo, conductor;Jacob Hilton, tuba) – 2 April 2017
  • University of Texas (Austin) Wind Ensemble (Jerry Junkin, conductor; Charles Villarubia, tuba) – 20 November 2016
  • Truman State University (Kirksville, Mo.) Wind Symphony I (Curran Prendergast, conductor; Bo Atlas, tuba) – 16 November 2016
  • University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Wind Ensemble (Cynthia Johnston Turner, conductor; David Zerkel, tuba) – 15 November 2016
  • University of Michigan Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor; Carol Jantsch, tuba) - 6 February 2015 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

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