Clarinet HERstory

Clarinet HERstory: Eileen Tranmer

Clarinet HERstory is a new retrospective series on Jenny Clarinet which celebrates women throughout clarinet history (aka HERstory).

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English musician Eileen Betsy Tranmer (1910-1983) was an accomplished clarinetist and chess player who held the title of Woman International Master.

Eileen was a leading figure in the British chess scene during the mid-20th century, and she won the British Women’s Chess Championship four times. Additionally, she won and shared 5th-7th place in the Women’s World Chess Championship in Moscow in 1950. In 1952, she was ranked 7th at the Women’s World Chess Championship Candidates Tournament in Moscow.

As a clarinetist, Eileen performed with the Scottish Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and Sadler’s Wells Orchestra in the 1940s and 1950s. She performed with the celebrated British clarinetist Thea King, and the pair were co-principal clarinets of the Sadler’s Wells Orchestra in the 1950s. As a soloist, Eileen performed the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Scottish Orchestra in Edinburgh in 1940, and she wasalso promoted by the Edinburgh Concert Society Limited. Unfortunately, Eileen was forced to retire from performing after becoming deaf.

Eschewing the societal expectations of her time, Eileen never married. She maintained an illustrious career as both a clarinetist and chess player.


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