• Secret Societies in Clarinet History

    In addition to the abundance of clarinet history’s unsolved mysteries, there is also evidence of secret societies in clarinet history. Most notably is Austrian clarinetist Anton Stadler (1752-1812), who is well-known as “Mozart’s clarinetist.” Mozart and Stadler became good friends and were both fellow Freemasons during the latter half of the 18th century. There are many rumors, mysteries, and even conspiracy theories surrounding Freemasons, but at its core, Freemasons were (and continue to be) a fraternal organization with the goals of enlightenment for its members. “Big deal, Mozart and Stadler hung out together in a fraternal group,” you might be thinking. You’re not wrong, but there are some interesting things…

  • How this famous composer of clarinet music inspired the Phantom of the Opera

    Did you know that one of clarinet history’s most celebrated composers might be responsible for partially inspiring Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera? A bit of background: Even if you haven’t read the book, you’re probably familiar with the story of The Phantom of the Opera. A quick primer for anyone who’s unfamiliar: a mysterious phantom named Erik lives under the Paris Opera house, the Palais Garnier, in a subterranean lake. He falls in love with soprano Christine, much to the displeasure of her friend Raoul. As in most operas, drama, destruction, and diabolical plans ensue. Gaston Leroux was partially inspired by the rumors and unusual occurrences that…

  • This former school is haunted by the ghost of a clarinetist

    The quaintly named Valentine, Nebraska is a small town near the South Dakota border with a population of only a few thousand people. It holds the honors of housing Centennial Hall, Nebraska’s oldest standing school, built in 1897. According to local legend, a student at the school was murdered in Centennial Hall in 1944. The young unnamed girl was a clarinetist, and her friend poisoned her clarinet reed. When the girl put the clarinet in her mouth to play, she died from the poisonous reed. Before the school was converted into a museum, teachers would report seeing a ghostly apparition and feeling a feeling of dread or unease. Now, you…

  • Horror films which feature the clarinet

    If this is your first Jenny Clarinet Halloween, you’re in for a real (trick or) treat! If there’s one thing I love nearly as much as clarinet, it’s Halloween. During October each year, I share the spooky side of the clarinet world, from unusual history, haunted pieces, and even mysteries of the clarinet. First up, you can’t properly celebrate Halloween with some scary movies! Get ready for some horror films with a heavy dose of clarinet! (By the way, I’m always looking for new horror films to watch, so if you know of any clarinet-infused scary movies you’d like me to add to this list, please let me know!) Grab…

  • Crypto-musicology books to read this Halloween

    It’s no secret that I enjoy exploring the dark and spooky corners of clarinet and music history, such as the bizarre deaths of historical clarinetists, final resting places of famous clarinetists, or the curse of the yellow clarinet. If you’re looking to discover more strange tales from music history (which I’ve officially dubbed crypto-musicology), here are a few of my favorite books to get you started: Beethoven’s Skull by Tim Rayborn. This book explores the “Dark, Strange, and Fascinating Tales from the World of Classical Music and Beyond.” These are the tales you probably never learned in music history! Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius by Colin Dickey.…

  • The musical medium who holds a clue to the missing Mozart clarinet concerto manuscript

    One of clarinet history’s greatest mysteries is the whereabouts of the manuscript to Mozart’s beloved Concerto for Clarinet in A Major, K. 622, written in 1791 for Anton Stadler. We know that Mozart gave his fellow freemason friend Anton Stadler the manuscript of his new concerto on October 10, 1791 (only two days after he finished orchestrating the piece), along with 200 florins for “travel money” before Stadler embarked on what would become a five-year tour of Eastern Europe. (By the way, 200 florins might not sound like much, but it was the equivalent to a quarter of Mozart’s salary as a Viennese court composer.) Stadler began his tour with…