20 Unaccompanied Clarinet Works from the 20th Century

For an instrument with such an illustrious history, the clarinet is relatively new to the unaccompanied scene. Excluding the Stadler Caprices and Donizetti Studie, there are virtually no works for solo clarinet until the 20th century.

Here are 20 standard works for solo clarinet from the 20th century, arranged alphabetically. I have chosen these pieces for their historical significance and importance within the clarinet repertoire. By no means is this intended to serve as a comprehensive list of unaccompanied clarinet repertoire from the 20th century. These are milestone works of clarinet literature, and there are countless other masterpieces written for solo clarinet.

  1. Malcolm Arnold – Fantasy for Clarinet, Op. 87 (1966)
  2. Luciano Berio – Sequenza IXa (1980)
  3. Pierre Boulez – Domaines (1968-1969)
  4. Louis Cahuzac – Arlequin (1958)
  5. Elliott Carter – Gra (1993)
  6. Edison Denisov – Sonata for Clarinet Solo (1972)
  7. Franco Donatoni – Clair (1980)
  8. Ida Gotkovsky – Sonate pour clarinet solo (1986)
  9. André Jolivet – Ascèses for Solo Clarinet (1967)
  10. Sigfrid Karg-Elert – Sonata for Solo Clarinet, Op. 110 (1925)
  11. Béla Kovács – Hommages series (1994)
  12. Meyer Kupferman – Moonflowers, Baby! (1986)
  13. Libby Larsen – Dancing Solo (1994)
  14. Donald Martino – A Set for Clarinet (1954)
  15. Eric Mandat – Etude for Barney (1990)
  16. John Mayer – Raga Music (1957-1958)
  17. William O. Smith – Five Pieces for Clarinet Alone (1959)
  18. Igor Stravinsky – Three Pieces (1919)
  19. Heinrich Sutermeister – Capriccio (1946)
  20. Jörg Widmann – Fantasie (1993)

Leave a comment below with pieces that you would include on your list!

20 thoughts on “20 Unaccompanied Clarinet Works from the 20th Century

  1. “3 études de caractère” by Jean-Philippe Navarre (2000) (IMD 525)
    “Méditation et Danse” by Piotr Moss (2008) (IMD 643)

  2. I’m not familiar with at least half of the works from that list — a lot new music to check out!

    Oddly enough, I’m studying at the same school that Edison Denisov graduated from and that now bears his name, but I’m absolutely not a fan of his clarinet pieces.

    1. You should definitely check out these pieces if you’re not familiar with any of them. And I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of the Denisov’s music myself, but it’s nonetheless significant within the literature!

  3. 3 Pieces for Solo Clarinet by Lennox Berkeley (1932). He is British and his son Michael is also a composer. I always call these the “other” 3 Pieces.

    1. I’m not familiar with these – I’ll have to check out these “other” 3 pieces! Thank you for sharing!

  4. I just discovered one more unaccompanied modern clarinet piece that is exhilarating to hear and to play–a real showpiece. It was written just a few years ago for a clarinet competition in Denmark: Caprice for Clarinet by Anders Koppel. Jonathan Holden gives an energetic performance on YouTube. There are parts of this piece that really do sound like two clarinets in counterpoint.

    1. I just listened to Holden’s performance on YouTube – wow! What a great piece (and performance!)!

  5. Capricce by Henrich Sutermeister and i sugest by portuguese composeres:

    João Pedro Oliveira – Integrais II
    Christopher Bochmann – 5 monogram
    Alexandre Delgado – Langará

    I hope you like!

    1. Thank you so much for these suggestions! I’m not familiar with the works by the Portuguese composers, but I can’t wait to listen to and study them!

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