The Tuba Concerto was originally written in 1976 for brass band. The orchestral version was made in 1978 but did not receive its first performance until 1983 when it was premiered by its dedicatee, John Fletcher, at the Scottish Proms in Edinburgh with the Scottish National Orchestra, conducted by Sir Alexander Gibson.
The concerto is in three movements, following the usual quick-slow-quick pattern: Allegro deciso, Lento e mesto, Allegro giocoso. The first is in a sonata form shell with two contrasting themes, the first rhythmic in character, the second lyrical. There is a reference made in the development section to the opening theme of Vaughan Williams’s tuba concerto, but only in passing.
The second movement unfolds a long cantabile melody for the soloist, which contrasts to a ritornello idea which is announced three times by strings alone. The central climax of the movement triumphantly heralds the main theme from the full orchestra.
The last movement is in rondo form, alternating the main theme with two episodes. The first of these is a broad sweeping tune, the second is jazz-like in style with prominent solos for the clarinet and vibraphone in conjunction with the tuba. After a short cadenza, reference is made to the opening of the concerto, and the work ends with a triumphal flourish.