A Portrait of Milton Phibbs

Milton Phibbs was a supremely talented horn player (graduate of Curtis Institute) and also a composer. For many years he was the composer-in-residence at the Kendall Betts horn camp in New Hampshire—a summer institute that attracts world renowned performers and students from all over. In that role, he displayed his eccentric sense of humor, writing pieces for the faculty to present that were challenging, quirky, and funny, to the enjoyment of all. Starting in 2018, Milton began pulling together some of the top level horn players in the New York City area to perform and record these pieces—resulting in a series of concerts and a CD of some of the selections: “Phibbs and Phriends.” Shortly after the recording was released in 2019, Milton unexpectedly died. When his affairs were settled, the executor of his estate decided to designate surplus funds to commission pieces to commemorate Milton, including this one—“A Portrait of Milton Phibbs.” This piece is my tribute and portrait. We decided to make a video presentation for the premiere. As much as possible, the players in the video are the same ones who were part of those concerts and recording. A few things worth mentioning: Milton was often, shall we say, “a little tipsy,” and sweetly so. The first movement is a nod to that aspect of his character. He was also an avid WWI buff, to the extent that one of his wishes was to be buried with a pack of WWI cigarettes he had collected (and he was). The second movement is a setting of the WWI song “When the Boys Come Home,” as well as a commentary on war. The final movement is my response to his wild and wonderful music. Check back—expected release is August!

A Portrait of Milton Phibbs