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Famous clarinet composers: providing the music

Providing the music: famous clarinet composers.

While many composers have made use of the clarinet both as part of an ensemble or as a solo instrument, some are identified as clarinet composers more readily than others. This is because they have managed to write for the clarinet in a way that showcases this instrument’s beautiful tone and virtuosic ability. Often inspired by gifted players, many composers throughout the ages have left us with additions to the clarinet repertoire that are a joy to play as well as listen to.

One of the first composers to truly appreciate the clarinet and write music that explored the emotional intensity and supreme agility of this newly developed instrument was Mozart. Inspired by the clarinet virtuoso Anton Stadler, Mozart wrote his famous Clarinet Concerto only months before he died and it was his last instrumental work. Now a cornerstone of the repertoire, this piece of music featured in the movie ‘Out of Africa’ though it was much beloved of many clarinet fans long before the movie.

While other composers wrote works for the clarinet, including Vivaldi and Handel, it was in the Romantic era that a great age of composition for the clarinet began. This was due mainly to great technical advances in the making of clarinets, which allowed for more stability of tone and even greater agility. Some of the best composers of works for solo clarinet from this era are Weber, who was inspired by the great player Heinrich Baermann; and Brahms, also inspired by a clarinet virtuoso, Richard Muhlfield.

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written by Natalia Forrest


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