• The Clarinet Curse: Composers Who Died After Writing for the Clarinet

    If you’re thinking about composing a piece for clarinet, you might want to consider choosing another instrument. Here are some famous composers whose final pieces or last substantial works were written for clarinet. Don’t say I didn’t warn you… Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Perhaps the most famous piece in our repertoire, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622 was written in October 1791. Mozart died two months later. Carl Nielsen – Nielsen wanted to compose a concerto for every wind instrument, so he started with flute then created his devilishly difficult clarinet concerto in 1928…and that was as far as he got before his death in 1931. Francis Poulenc –…

  • Quick Fix Friday: Give Good Cues

    You practice your part diligently. You study the score and mark in all the other instrumental cues. You listen to several recordings. Yet your chamber music still feels…off. Simple fix? Maintain good eye contact and give good cues. This is an often-overlooked aspect of performing with other musicians. Many musicians are so used to performing under conductors that they are unfamiliar or uncomfortable leading others in smaller conductor-less ensembles. Accompanists and chamber musicians are not mind-readers (although wouldn’t that be amazing if they were?), so it is important to let others know your musical intentions. Practice giving good cues and nonverbal gestures to let your fellow musicians know where you want…

  • 48 Hours in Amsterdam

    Ever since I moved to Paris, I’ve developed a severe case of wanderlust. The geographical proximity to so many amazing places combined with insanely cheap budget airlines have turned me into a travel addict, and I’m always thinking of the next place to visit. It’s common for me to peruse Google Flights (or SNCF Voyages if I’m looking into travel within France) while I have my morning coffee, and my friends here are used to my random outbursts (“I can fly to Stockholm for €45!) I went to Amsterdam for the first time last week, where I spent a jam-packed 48 hours exploring this beautiful city. Since my trip was so short, I made…

  • All About the A-Flat Clarinet

    Most clarinetists are familiar with the core members of the clarinet family, from the unwieldy contrabass clarinet to the tiny E-flat clarinet, but there is one “black sheep” of the clarinet family – the A-flat clarinet. If you think the E-flat is small and shrill, you’re in for a rude awakening when you hear the A-flat clarinet. Not only have I have performed and recorded on the A-flat clarinet with a clarinet choir, but I have lived to tell the tale! Many people share my fascination and curiosity of this unusual instrument, so I’d like to share some information and my personal experience with this beast. Let’s start with the…