A Tribute to Tony (Book 2)

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British composer-bassist Tony Osborne (1947-2019) and I were friends for almost 30 years. He was an amazingly prolific and imaginative composer and, whether writing for beginner bassists or a great soloist, had the knack of creating music which proved popular with performers and audiences alike. Tony was the Featured Composer at every Bass-Fest I organised, alongside other birthday concerts and workshops, and 'A Tribute to Tony' is a project to commission a series of works for unaccompanied double bass from 17 composers from seven countries (UK, USA, Oman, France, Mexico, Venezuela, Belgium).The commissions have been recorded for YouTube by Dritan Gani (Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, Ankara) and the project will culminate in concerts in 2021 featuring the new pieces alongside solos and duets by Tony Osborne. ‘A Tribute to Tony’ is a celebration of the life and music of an amazing man who was also one of my greatest friends. [David Heyes]

Developmental psychologists describe a number of stages in the life of a person, delineated and categorised according the patterns of continuity and change that person may experience as he matures. Personality theorist Erik Erikson believes each stage of development presents its own specific challenges; we achieve balance by successfully overcoming these challenges. I did not know Tony Osborne personally, but being to an extent aware of his work and grateful for his many contributions to the world of bass, would like to think my own reflections on his life, expressed in this musical essay, might have some small measure of relevance. The several sections of this piece reflect varying degrees of tonal and rhythmic tension, reminiscent of the challenges we face and balance we find at different stages of our life. As we consider Tony’s life, we can easily believe he would have faced his own challenges on his way to maturity and found his balance at the end of it all – certainly the world of bass is better for it. [Michael Montgomery]

This work is called Variations since the overall approach to the form is akin to a theme with a series of sections that are related to the theme, however these variations employ a wide assortment of methods to connect with the theme including many different melodic and harmonic linkages. Osborne refers to the composer and double bass player Tony Osborne (1947-2019) in whose memory the work is written. His name has eleven letters which are converted from his name to a melodic theme. A method was devised to convert these letters, TONYOSBORNE, into a series of pitches that are used for the initial appearance of the central theme of the work. Some of the pitches are repeated in different octaves in the initial statement to enhance the melodic contour. The purpose in using this conversion for the basic theme, which permeates the whole work in diverse ways, is to make the memory of Tony an integral influence on the essence of the work. [Armand Russell]

Before reaching the soul, music passes through both heart and spirit. A universal language, it is spoken on all five continents but resounds even further, beyond our world. By invitation from David Heyes, 'The Key to the Soul' is dedicated as a homage to Tony Osborne, a composer, teacher and friend. [Jacques Vanherenthals]

It was such an honour to be invited to write a new work as a tribute to composer Tony Osborne. He said his music could be light-hearted, jazzy, even occasionally ‘funky- rock’, so as a musician who regarded music with no boundaries at all, he developed a unique voice of his own. Writing in many styles, and for numerous combinations of musicians, brass, choral and songs, as well as many for his beloved instrument the double bass, he has left all musicians, and audiences with a legacy that endures. So, how to pay a tribute to such a wonderful musician? Listening to his music, and thinking of his many comments about music, I thought to absorb all these elements of his approach to music - I realised at this time we were of the same mind set as these thoughts actually reflect my approach to music too. I also indeed love how he described his own compositions: ‘I cook with different colours....’; ‘Paint scenes....’; ‘The great wheel of music, and expression of its origins - ever turning….’; etc, all fabulous expressions of his creative work, and personal thoughts about what he does. With all this in mind, I set about trying to capture a little of his musical spirited environment, using a recurring melodic figure, with changing harmonic colour, interspersed with a more spirited theme. As these two ideas come together, mix, and stir into a complete shape, I hope I have captured something of the true impression of Tony’s work, and his musical spirit. At the end of the work the reflecting theme reappears for the final time, again slightly changed, and like Tony’s ideal works, thus leaving us with a healing for the human spirit and a positive reflection. As a composer, double bassist, and teacher he shared his musical, and creative spirit with us all, so it’s a pleasure to try and return something here to his memory." [Peter Byrom-Smith]

This piece emerged with all the devotion and respect towards the life and work of the great Tony Osborne, stealthily beginning with a pedal note which is opposed by a simple motif with long notes, around which the whole piece unfolds, as a hymn or prayer, without relating to a specific religion. It is a peaceful and calm piece, just to be quiet and take a moment to think about the life of Tony. In Memoriam has a simple form which has an introduction, a development and a restatement, the thematic intensity increases as the piece progresses, taking the main motif from different angles and combinations. Most of the time the harmonic sequence remains suspended, causing a slight but constant tension, and only in two moments does it come to rest on the root chord. For the most part, two simultaneous voices must be played, for which natural harmonics are combined with ordinary notes. In Memoriam is a pure and sincere work, created with love for music and for those who make it possible. In memory of great Tony Osborne as main sense but looking to enrich the repertoire for double bass. [Rodrigo Mata]

When David Heyes invited composers to contribute a short work to this project, it was close to Valentine’s Day. In mid-December, I had a rather drastically life and heart-shattering horror occur concerning the subject of romantic love. I was (and am still) dealing with the aftermath of such, and to repeat, I never had much use for Valentine’s Day to begin with! Every idea I wrote down - was filled with even more Gothic melodrama and darkness than my music already usually contains. This was fine in that it gave me a lot of material to use for other pieces, but such material certainly had no place in a piece that was to commemorate the passing of such a wonderful person like Tony Osborne. I couldn’t separate my current feelings of that week to write something appropriate. All I could fill my sketch books with were pages and pages and pages of angst, heartbreak, and progressively more infuriated reactions to dire betrayal. Not the kind of sound world I was trying to create for a memorial work for Tony! After days of frustration, I finally decided to go to the source. I looked up some of Tony’s obituaries and all of the wonderful writings people had posted about his wonderful music and kind persona. And at last, something in one of those writings gave me my guide. In one of these posts there is a beautiful quote from a list of things that Tony said he was always trying to project in his wonderful music. Said quote was “…always after sounds that caused a healing of the spirit…” Well, Eureka! I was definitely in need of some healing of my spirit at the time and then, at last, the “correct” sounds came to me. I used a fanfare-ish flourish to sort of “announce” the piece at its outset. Then I still took one of my brooding, moody lyrical sketches to start the main body of the material. The music is still quite darkly impassioned for much of the time but then there is a coda of great exception where my usual endings are concerned. Instead of building said darkness to an even darker climax and conclusion, I went the opposite path. Shortly before the end of the work, the opening flourish and the rolling, dark repeated figure return, but then evolve into a tender sound that ends on a fading, though optimistically dolce B-flat major. (This cadence had been “secretly” foreshadowed at the outset of the first lyrical motive, with said motive's notes outlining the augmented dominant of B flat major.) One can say from Tony's idea of “healing of the spirit,” I healed myself, if only a bit, to the point where I could write an appropriate piece to honour his memory. As always, profuse thanks to my dear friend David Heyes and Recital Music for this opportunity. [P. Kellach Waddle]

At the behest of David Heyes, I composed "Tribute" to the memory of Tony Osborne who was a double bassist, teacher and composer. The piece has an A-B-A structure, Larghetto Affettuoso (A) with motifs from the Eccles Sonata, in the first two phrases, followed by a molto piú mosso in Bb major with a retrograde motif from the second movement of the Eccles Sonata, but with a change of character, then returning to the initial tempo. Thank you endlessly to David Heyes for inviting me to be part of this project with many days of quarantine making the days longer and more productive. [Luis Guillermo Pérez]

Completed on 13 August 2020, 'A Serenade for Tony' is lyrical and song-like and played primarily in harmonics. Tony Osborne and I first met at Bass-Fest '98 in Reading (Berkshire), directed by David Heyes to whom the piece is dedicated, and we remained friends for 21 years. 'A Serenade for Tony' is simple and sincere, using a limited number of notes, occasionally grounded by an open string pizzicato note which adds depth to the cantabile melodic line. Lasting almost three minutes, the piece ends gently and simply, leaving more questions than answers, with two ringing pizzicato harmonics. [Teppo Hauta-aho]

I first met Tony as a music student at Bass-Fest where he was the resident composer. Being interested in composition as well as bass I got to know him a bit and happily chatted about composing. We met again at several other Bass-Fests and I quickly developed a great respect for him as a musician and person. Years later we were both teaching at a bass workshop in Sussex, I was delighted to see him again and I fondly remember that workshop. It felt great to be teaching with someone that I held in high esteem. I remember a very pleasant conversation at lunch with Tony where he talked with such passion and commitment to the bass, teaching and composing - it was very inspiring. Tony wrote some wonderful music for the double bass which has certainly enriched my playing experience. His music was, and is, a pleasure to play and always an audience favourite. I salute Tony as a person and for his rich contribution to music. [Ian Davies]


  • Ever Turning - The Painted Wheel (P. Byrom-Smith)
  • Song for Tony (I. Davies)
  • Serenade for Tony (T. Hauta-aho)
  • In Memoriam (R. Mata)
  • Stages - Continuity and Change (M. Montgomery)
  • A Tribute to Tony Osborne (L G. Perez)
  • Osborne Variations (A. Russell)
  • The Key to the Soul (J. Vanherenthals)
  • Vampires Heal in the Dark; Even on Valentine's Day (P. Kellach Waddle)

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Cat No. RM1113
Supplier Code RM1113
Price £13.50
ComposersPeter Byrom-Smith
Ian Davies
Teppo Hauta-aho
Rodrigo Mata
Michael Montgomery
Luis Guillermo Perez
Armand Russell
Jacques Vanherenthals
P. Kellach Waddle
CategoryDouble Bass Solo
Difficulty level7 - 8, Advanced
Weight 164 grams
Published 27th July 2021
Availability 11 in stock
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