We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Wagner Tuba?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

In spite of its name, the Wagner tuba is not actually a tuba. It is a brass instrument, but it is a member of the horn group, one of the four major categories into which brass are customarily divided, the others being tubas, trumpets, and trombones. It comes in two sizes: Bb (tenor) and F (bass).

However, the Wagner tuba is, as its name suggests, the brainchild of German composer Richard Wagner, making it an eponymous instrument like the Sousaphone — created by American bandmaster and composer John Philip Sousa, and the saxophone, invented by Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax. The Wagner tuba was invented because in the course of writing Der Rhinegold, in the early 1850s, Wagner conceived of a sound that no existing instrument could make and had them made for him.

Other composers began to use them as well. It is reported that Anton Bruckner called for it in his 7th Symphony, Richard Strauss used it in Don Quixote, Igor Stravinsky used it in both Firebird and Le Sacre du Printemps, and Maurice Ravel’s orchestral arrangement of Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky also includes the Wagner tuba. Today, some of these pieces may be performed with a euphonium taking the Wagner tuba part.

The Wagner tuba has four rotary valves. In the Bb Wagner tuba, one of the valves lowers the pitch by a fourth. On the instrument keyed in F, that same vale lowers the pitch by a fifth. Music for both types of Wagner tuba is transposed, and the Bb tubas sound a major second lower than the written pitches, while the F tubas sound a perfect fifth lower.

Hornists are generally employed to play the Wagner tuba, which uses a horn mouthpiece, and has its valves operated by the left hand, like the French horn, not the right hand, like the other tubas. Unlike the horn, the right hand is never used to stop the Wagner tuba, but a mute may be employed, largely to reduce the volume. It is worth noting that achieving accurate intonation is more difficult with the Wagner tuba than it is with the French horn.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for WiseGeek, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.