Oystein Baadsvik is the only tuba player in the world to make his living entirely from solo performances, his own CDs and master classes.
For the last 20 years, he has been expanding the possibilities of the world’s largest brass instrument, and reshaping the way it’s viewed by the public, as well as by the musicians who play it.
A Norwegian by birth, Baadsvik, 46, now spends 200 days a year traveling, preaching tuba creativity and the limitlessness of an instrument born more than a century ago into accompanist captivity.
I met Baadsvik before a master class he was to give one night at the University of Southern California — itself a center of tuba effervescence. (It’s where the late Tommy Johnson taught and turned out dozens of professional tuba players; and it’s where Jim Self now teaches and continues to educate the tubists of tomorrow.)
Close to a hundred students filled the class later that evening — most of them tuba players.
During our interview, we spoke about Baadsvik’s life as a tuba soloist, the limitations other non-players have imposed on the tuba, how tuba players have subconsciously accepted these limitations, and whether a tuba civil rights movement has formed to lead the instrument out from the back of the band.
“Playing a tuba is always crossing borders, doing stuff that hasn’t been done before,” he said.
Anyway, hope you enjoy an interview with a creative spirit.
The pieces on the podcast are:
First, “Dancing with a Blue Ribbon” from his new CD, Ferry Tales.
“Winter” from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” from his first CD, Tuba Carnival.
Finally, “Fnugg,” also from Tuba Carnival.