• Clarinet Compositions Written During the 1918 Flu Pandemic

    The last few months have been pretty depressing, to put it lightly. Life seems as if it’s been temporarily put on hold as the world anxiously awaits to see what happens next. Despite what some are saying, music isn’t cancelled and creativity isn’t dead. I know this can be hard to believe since all auditions, concerts, and performances have been postponed, rescheduled, or outright cancelled for the foreseeable future. Despite all of the horrible news constantly bombarding us, it is so inspiring to see how musicians are using technology in new and creative ways. I’ve seen so many artists share resources and tools to help others in these times of…

  • The Clarinet Compositions of Meyer Kupferman

    Meyer Kupferman playing clarinet (image from milkenarchive.org) …the modern clarinetist may well be represented as our new hero or musical superman – our true 20th century ‘challenger’! He is not only our new soloist, our new chamber music leader but in many ways our new entertainer or magician…By now all of us realize the clarinet is capable of an impressive spectrum of sonorities. Composers who understand its dramatic arsenal of dynamics, attacks, its huge range and its exquisite legato – can create a plethora of design suitable for any musical gesture. To well disciplined fingers the clarinet’s fluent Boehm system keyboard lends itself to the most remarkable feats of virtuosity.…

  • Keeping Time: A Short History of the Metronome

    I am a self-proclaimed metronome maniac. You’ll always find a metronome clicking methodically away throughout my practicing routine, used both as a speedometer and as the rhythm police. It helps me keep time and gain speed as I learn new pieces, and I feel strange when I practice without it. Long story short, I love metronomes. Even though I love music history, I’ve never given much thought to the origins of my trusty practice companion. Imagine my surprise when one of my students told me that the “inventor” of the metronome actually stole the design from someone else! Obviously, I had to investigate this sordid history… If we’re being quite…

  • 31 Clarinet Compositions Written by Female Composers

    In celebration of Women’s History Month, I’ve created a list of 31 pieces for clarinet written by female composers, one for every day this month. By no means is this list comprehensive, but I hope this serves as nice introduction to the wide variety of wonderful music for clarinet by women composers. I have arranged this list alphabetically by composer’s last name. Please note that many of these composers have written several works featuring the clarinet. Unsuk Chin Concerto Yi Chen Chinese Ancient Dances Yvonne Desportes Trois petits contes Marie Félicie Clémence de Grandval Deux Pièces Sarah Feigin Fantasy for clarinet and piano Keiko Fujiie 3 Pieces, Op. 5 Ida Gotkovsky…

  • 100 Famous Female Clarinetists Throughout History

    Any time is a great time to celebrate all the amazing women in the music industry. However, it seems extra appropriate to acknowledge some of them during the year of the woman, commemorating 100 years of women’s voting rights in the United States. As always, this list is not intended to be comprehensive. I’m always interested in hearing your suggestions for those you’d add to your own list, so please leave comments below with your ideas! If you’re interested, I also wrote a more detailed description of some famous female clarinetists throughout history. Mariam Adam Michelle Anderson Laura Ardan Lori Ardovino Diane Barger Ivy Benson Jessica Bessac Deborah Bish Romy…

  • 30 Famous French Clarinetists

    Happy Bastille Day – vive la France! I will always consider France my adopted country, so to celebrate this French national holiday I’ve listed 30 famous French clarinetists. As always, this list is not intended to be comprehensive. I have tried to include notable clarinetists who spent their formative years in France, but many of these clarinetists later moved to perform in other countries. Michel Arrignon Nicholas Baldeyrou Frédéric Berr Philippe Berrod Daniel Bonade Jacques Jules Boufil Louis Cahuzac Lucien Cailliet Florent Charpentier Philippe Cuper Alain Damiens Guy Dangain Ulysse Delécluse Guy Deplus Pierre Gennison Georges Grisez Gaston Hamelin Florent Héau Paul Jeanjean Hyacinthe Klosé Jacques Lancelot Jean-Xavier Lefèvre Paul…

  • 50 Famous American Clarinetists

    Happy Independence Day, America! To help celebrate and put you in a patriotic state of mind, here are 50 famous American clarinetists, listed alphabetically by last name. (Disclaimer: This list is not intended to be comprehensive – there are so many awesome American clarinetists past, present, and future! I tried to use clarinetists who were born in America, although there are countless talented players who moved here from other countries to perform. Make sure you share any American clarinetists you’d add to your own list in the comments!) Ben Armato Sidney Bechet Kalman Bloch Lawrie Bloom Clark Brody Carmine Campione Frank Cohen Jonathan Cohler Larry Combs Eddie Daniels Buddy DeFranco…

  • Historic High Notes in Clarinet Repertoire

    I’ve always loved hitting the high notes on the clarinet, and I consider it one of my musical strengths. I credit this to the friendly competition I had in high school with my best friends to see who could play higher (thanks Patrick and Robby!) and come up with the most fingerings for each note. (This could also be the reason I gravitate towards the E-flat clarinet instead of the bass, but that’s a subject for another day!) I’m currently preparing the Josef Rheinberger Sonata Op. 105a for a recital, and it has some uncharacteristically high notes for the Romantic period. It got me wondering – what are some of…

  • Music for Clarinet and Theremin or Ondes Martenot

    I’ve always been fascinated by unusual instruments (as witnessed by my obsession time spent playing the rare A-flat clarinet). A few months ago, I went down a rabbit hole and began researching the theremin and its not-so-distant relative, the ondes Martenot (sometimes called ondes musicales). These two early electronic instruments emit an eerie sound and immediately sparked my interest. My logical next question: “Are there any pieces for clarinet and theremin/ondes Martenot?” As a matter of fact, yes. But not many! Here’s a list I’ve compiled of every original piece I could find written for both clarinet and theremin or ondes Martenot. (Lists arranged alphabetically by composer’s last name. I’ve…

  • Brymer Burns 🔥

    Celebrated English clarinetist Jack Brymer was not one to mince his words. While reading his book Clarinet, I’ve noted some of my favorite subtle critiques he offers, which I’ve dubbed “Brymer Burns.” Repertoire On the Bernstein Sonata: Possibly better to play than to hear, but makes its mark with audiences. On the Brahms sonatas: Little needs to be said about these two masterpieces except that they do belong to the clarinet and not to the viola. On the Antony Garlic Sonata for E flat clarinet: Modern, not difficult, and (dare one say?) highly flavoured. On the Saint-Saens Sonata. Slow movement is weak. On the Templeton Pocket Sized Sonatas: Should not…