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10 Famous Tuba Players

Who are the most famous tuba players?

Short answerThe world of music recognizes several renowned tuba players. These include Charles Daellenbach, a founding member of the Canadian Brass, Sam Pilafian, a former member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Alan Baer, Principal Tuba for the New York Philharmonic. Other noteworthy tubists are James Gourlay, Carol Jantsch, Arnold Jacobs, Tan Yao Cong, Gene Pokorny, Roger Bobo, and Øystein Baadsvik.


The tuba is the lowest-pitched and largest musical instrument in the brass family. The tuba was invented in the middle of the nineteenth century, replacing the ophicleide.

Here are several interesting facts about the tuba:

The tuba was invented by Johann Gottfried Moritz and Willhelm Friedrich Wieprecht on September 12, 1835.

New Orleans has more tubas per capita than any city in the world except for a small town in Bavaria named KleinstadtAmRhein.

The tuba’s sound is rich and deep, and it is the lowest-pitched instrument in the brass family.

This musical instrument is used in all sorts of music and can be found in brass ensembles, orchestras, brass bands, pop groups, wind bands, jazz groups, and even tuba quartets.

The tuba, along with the bassoons and string basses, provides the lowest sounds for the orchestra.

Early tubas had no valves, and the pitch was controlled entirely with the lips.

In Latin, the word ”tuba” means trumpet or horn.

An orchestra usually has a single tuba, however, an additional tuba may be requested.

List Of 10 Famous Tuba Players:

#1 Charles Daellenbach

He is a Canadian and American tuba player. Charles is the most recorded tuba performer in history.

Daellenbach is best known as one of the founding members of the Canadian Brass, in which he remains the quintet’s tuba player, professional relationships manager, business administrator, and publisher.

As a teenager, Daellenbach began studies with Arnold Jacobs, a Chicago Symphony tuba player.

Daellenbach began a teaching career at the University of Toronto, where he met Gene Watts.

“For popularizing classical music, notably as a founder of the Canadian Brass, one of our nation’s most internationally renowned classical music groups,” Charles was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2014.

#2 Sam Pilafian

He was an American tuba player who attended the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan. Via his performance at Interlochen, Pilafian was awarded scholarships to study at both the Tanglewood Music Center and Dartmouth College.

In 1994, Sam started teaching at Arizona State University. In 2017, Pilafian started teaching at North Dakota State University.

Additionally, Sam was active in the jazz scene, having played with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

#3 Alan Baer

Alan Baer


He is an American tubist who is Principal Tuba for the New York Philharmonic since 2004. Baer also completed his bachelor of music degree with Ronald Bishop at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Baer has performed as a featured soloist, touring in the following countries: Austria, Switzerland, France, and Germany. In addition, Alan has performed and recorded with:

  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra;
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic;
  • Ojai Festival Orchestra (California);
  • Los Angeles Concert Orchestra;
  • New Orleans Symphony;
  • the Peninsula Music Festival of Wisconsin;
  • the Cleveland Orchestra led by Vladimir Ashkenazy.

#4 James Gourlay

He is a British conductor and internationally renowned tuba soloist.

In the present day, James is the Director of Instrumental Music and University Bands at Wheeling Jesuit University, West Virginia, as well as the General Director of Pittsburgh’s own River City Brass, a professional brass band that performs around 70 concerts annually all over the United States.

Gourlay has worked with some of the world’s finest conductors, including:

  • Leonard Bernstein;
  • Zubin Metha;
  • Klaus Tennstedt;
  • Lorin Maazel;
  • Sir Roger Norrington;
  • Sir Colin Davis;
  • Seiji Ozawa;
  • Bernard Haitink;
  • Gennadi Rozhdestvensky;
  • Sir John Pritchard.

After a decade at the BBC, James was invited to become the solo tubist of the Zurich Opera House Orchestra in Switzerland.

On April 9, 2007, he performed Bruce Fraser’s “Tuba Concerto” at Birmingham Town Hall with the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain.

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#5 Carol Jantsch

She is an American tuba player who began to study piano at age 6 and the euphonium at age 9.

In 2009, Carol was honored with a “Best of Philly” award from Philadelphia magazine. Also, she is a noted ultimate frisbee player.

Jantsch is the daughter of a Kenyon College vocal-music teacher, Nancy Jantsch. In addition to the Orchestra, Carol also teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music.

#6 Arnold Jacobs

He was an American tubist who is best known for his long-running role as the tuba player for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Jacobs is best remembered for his playing philosophy which he referred to as “Song and wind.”

In 1941, Arnold toured with Leopold Stokowski and the All-American Youth Orchestra. Jacobs also taught tuba at Northwestern University.

Due to childhood illness and adult-onset asthma, his lung capacity was notably impaired.

A few books written by students about Arnold are available, such as:

  • Also Sprach Arnold Jacobs: Compiled by Bruce Nelson;
  • Lasting Change for Trumpeters by Luis Loubriel;
  • Teaching Brass by Kristian Steenstrup;
  • Arnold Jacobs: Song and Wind by Brian Frederiksen;
  • Arnold Jacobs, The Legacy of a Master edited by M. Dee Stewart.

#7 Tan Yao Cong

He is an independent music professional from Singapore.

Cong’s work as an orchestra musician has taken him across the world, performing in numerous concert series and tours with orchestras like The Orchestra of the Music Makers, The Philharmonic Orchestra, the Asian Youth Orchestra, and the International Youth Wind Orchestra, as well as festivals that include the Alzira Spanish Brass Festival.

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#8 Gene Pokorny

He is an American tubist who has written articles for the Tuba Journal and The Instrumentalist, as well as a chapter on orchestral auditions for the Tuba Source Book published by Indiana University Press.

In June 2000, Gene premiered John D. Stevens’ piece Journey – Concerto for Contrabass Tuba and Orchestra with the Chicago Symphony.

Moreover, he has performed on several movie soundtracks, including The Fugitive, Jurassic Park, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Pokorny has played with the Utah Symphony, the Israel Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. Gene has also played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since his appointment by Georg Solti in 1988.

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#9 Roger Bobo

He is an American tuba virtuoso and brass pedagogue who has been a guest conductor with numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles in Europe, North America, and Asia.

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#10 Øystein Baadsvik

He is a Norwegian tuba soloist and chamber musician. Baadsvik’s international career began in 1991 when he was awarded 2 prizes at Concours International d’Exécution Musicale in Geneva.

Baadsvik studied under the tuba player Harvey Phillips and with Arnold Jacobs.

His concert engagements include performances with orchestras like:

  • Melbourne Symphony Orchestra;
  • Singapore Philharmonic;
  • the Taipei National Symphony Orchestra;
  • Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra;
  • Bergen Philharmonic;
  • the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Here’s a quick recap of the 10 famous Tuba players in the world:

  1. Charles Daellenbach
  2. Sam Pilafian
  3. Alan Baer
  4. James Gourlay
  5. Carol Jantsch
  6. Arnold Jacobs
  7. Tan Yao Cong
  8. Gene Pokorny
  9. Roger Bobo
  10. Øystein Baadsvik

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Ralph Pearce

Saturday 13th of January 2024

No mention of John Fletcher. Admire my so many of those listed. Sadly died young. Plated in BBC Symphony and later LSO. Leading player in the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble

Bulgarea Candin Stefan

Sunday 14th of January 2024

Hey Ralph Pearce,

Thank you for your comment and for highlighting the contributions of John Fletcher to the world of music.

John Fletcher was indeed an amazing tuba player who left an indelible mark in the music industry. His performances with the BBC Symphony and later the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) showcased his extraordinary talent and solidified his place among the greats. His role as a leading player in the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble demonstrated his versatility.

It's important to note that while every list is subjective and influenced by various factors, the absence of a particular individual does not diminish their impact or accomplishments. We aim to provide unique and valuable information, and your comment has certainly added to our knowledge.