Clarinetists of Note

Here are some excellent clarinetists from the past and present

Early European Pioneers
Name Photo Birthdate Biographical Notes Recording
Eugène Albert Albert System clarinet April 26, 1816 A Belgian woodwind instrument maker, primarily known for his clarinets. The model of clarinet he made is known as the "Albert system".  
Carl Baermann Carl Baermann October 24,1810 The son of Heinrich Baermann who became a clarinet virtuoso in his own right. He composed many pieces which showed off the clarinet and developed the Vollständige Clarinett-Schule (Complete School for the Clarinet), one of the leading methods for teaching the clarinet, written between 1864 and 1875. Kees Vos playing Carl Baermann opus 63 No. 37 Adagio con espressione
Heinrich Baermann   February 14, 1784 A German clarinet virtuoso. Baermann received works from Felix Mendelssohn, Carl Maria von Weber and Giacomo Meyerbeer. Weber produced numerous works including two Concertos (Opp. 73, 74), a Quintet (Op. 34), the Concertino (Op. 26) and the Sylvana Variations (Op. 33). He was the father of Carl Baermann. John Diamanti Fox playing Heinrich Baermann's Adagio for clarinet and piano
Theobald Boehm Theobald Boehm April 9, 1794 A German inventor and musician. He improved a fingering system (now known as the "Boehm system") for the flute and clarinet.  
Louis-Auguste Buffet Logo for Buffet-Crampon 6 August, 1789 French musical instrument manufacturer. In the 1830s, he, with Hyacinthe.E. Klosé, invented the so-called Boehm system clarinet.  
Johann Simon Hermstedt Johann Hermstedt December 29, 1778 The court clarinetist to Duke Günther I of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen. All four of Louis Spohr's clarinet concertos and Carl Maria von Weber's Grand duo concertant were written for Hermstedt. Ernst Ottensamer performing the Spohr Clarinet Concerto 1 in c minor op. 26
Hyacinthe Klosé Hyacinthe Klose October 11, 1808 A French clarinetist. He is noted for his design improvements to the clarinet using the principles laid down by Theobald Boehm. He enlisted the help of Louis-August Buffet to construct — what is known today as — the Boehm system clarinet.  
Henry Lazarus Henry Lazarus January 1, 1815 A British clarinet and basset horn virtuoso. He was professor of clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music from 1854 to 1895. He wrote a Method for the Clarinet based on the Boehm System.  
Richard Mühlfeld Richard Muhlfeld February 28, 1856 A German clarinettist for whom Johannes Brahms wrote the Clarinet Trio, the Clarinet Quintet, and the Clarinet Sonatas. David Irwin performing the Brahms Clarinet Sonata #2 with Cory Hall
Cyrille Rose Cyrille Rose February 13, 1830 An important French clarinet teacher and composer of pedagogical material for the clarinet still widely in use today.  
Anton Stadler Anton Stadler June 28, 1753 An Austrian clarinet and basset horn player for whom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote both his Quintet for Clarinet and Strings and Clarinet Concerto. Martin Fröst performing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto

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The New Orleans and Chicago Connection
Name Photo Birthdate Biographical Notes Recording
Paul "Polo" Barnes Paul Barnes November 22, 1901 A mainstay of the New Orleans jazz scene of the 1920s and 1930s. He played with King Oliver and toured with Jelly Roll Morton. Courthouse Bump with Jelly Roll Morton
Sidney Bechet Sidney Bechet May 1897 Moved from New Orleans to Chicago at the age of 19. Spent much of his career in London and Paris. Also noted for his performances on the soprano sax. Blue Horizon Sidney Bechet and His Blue Note Jazzmen, December 30, 1944
Barney Bigard Barney Bigard March 3, 1906 Born in New Orleans, but moved to Chicago in the 1920s. Performed with Duke Ellington from 1927 to 1942. Rose Room with pianist Art Hodes, Rails Wilson on bass, and Bob Cousins on drums.
Louis Cottrell, Jr Louis Cottrell March 7, 1911 Was raised in New Orleans in a famous jazz family. He formed the Heritage Hall Jazz Band in 1971 and also led that ensemble up until his death in 1978. He was elected prsident of the American Federation of Musicians in 1956. Tiger Rag
"Big Eye" Louis Nelson Delisle Louis Nelson Delisle January 28, 1885 An early dixieland jazz clarinetist from New Orleans. He studied with Lorenzo Tio, Sr.  
Johnny Dodds Johnny Dodds April 12, 1892 Performed in New Orleans and Chicago, where he recorded with numerous small groups, most notably Louis Armstrong's Hot 5 and Hot 7, and Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers. Potato Head Blues with Louis Armstrong and Hot Seven
Irving Fazola Irving Fazola December 10, 1912 A New Orleans native. He toured nationally with several bands, including Glenn Miller and Bob Crosby. He ranked first in the Down Beat polls of 1940 and 1941 as the top hot clarinetist. A Fine Romance with Billie Holliday
Pete Fountain Pete Fountain July 3, 1930 A New Orleans native. He got fame in the 1950s as a featured performer on The Lawrence Welk Show. Many consider him, along with trumpeter Al Hirt, as the personification of New Orlean's Bourbon Street. Basin Street Blues
Benny Goodman Benny Goodman May 30, 1909 A Chicago native, Benny began playing professionally in his early teen years and continued for six decades.. The "King of Swing" was noted for many hits, the 1938 Carnegie Hall concert that brought jazz to the noted auditorium, and for leading one of the first racially-integrated musical groups in America. Sing, Sing, Sing with the Benny Goodman Orchestra
Edmund Hall Edmund Hall May 15, 1901 Edmund grew up in a musical family. He played in a number of clubs and groups and led the Edmund Hall All Stars. From 1955 to 1958 he toured with Louis Armstrong and his All Stars. Riverboat Shuffle and Fidgety Feet
Woody Herman Woody Herman May 16, 1913 A band leader who toured from the 1930s to the 1980s with groups that were called the "Herd". His 1939 recording of Woodchoppers Ball was a big hit. After You've Gone
George Lewis George Lewis July 13, 1900 Often mentioned as one of the best examples of the New Orleans French Quarter clarinetists. Lewis was extensively recorded and toured Europe and Japan in the 1960s. Old Rugged Cross
Albert Nicholas Albert Nicholas May 27, 1900 A New Orleans native, Albert performed in New York and Chicago, but also overseas. In 1953, he moved to France where he spent much of the rest of his life. I've Found A New Baby with Charlie Beal (piano) in Italy 1966
with bass and drums
Jimmie Noone Jimmie Noone April 23, 1895 Jimmie was one of many who got their start in clarinet by studying with Lorenzo Tio, Jr. in New Orleans. He performed much of his life in Chicago, especially at the Apex Club. Wake up, Chillun, Wake up and Love Me Or Leave Me
Alphonse Picou Alphonse Picou October 19, 1878 Picou was one of the early musicians playing in the new style that was developing in New Orleans which we now call jazz. He is perhaps best known for originating the clarinet part on the standard "High Society", High Society
Pee Wee Russell Pee Wee Russell March 27, 1906 Charles Russell - known as Pee Wee - grew up in Oklahoma and picked up the clarinet there. He started touring by the age of 16. He performed with many of the stars of the age, including Louis Prima, Frankie Trumbauer, and Bix Beiderbecke. Although alcoholism caused his health to deteriorate in the 1940s, he continued to perform til 1969 at Richard Nixon's inaugural ball.. That Old Feeling
Artie Shaw Artie Shaw May 23, 1910 A New York City native led a band with hits such as "Begin the Beguine", "Stardust", "Back Bay Shuffle", "Moonglow", "Rosalie" and "Frenesi." Because he found playing the same top hits over and over frustrating, he often would re-invent his music or quit the music business for periods. Stardust
Larry Shields Larry Shields September 13, 1893 Shields grew up in a musical family in New Orleans. In 1915 he moved to Chicago and eventually joined the Original Dixieland Jazz Band whose recordings were very influential. At The Jazz Band Ball with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band
Omer Simeon Omer Simeon July 21, 1902 After growing up in New Orleans, Omer moved to Chicago where he performed with Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Kid Ory, Earl Hines, Coleman Hawkins, and Jimmie Lunceford among others. Frankie and Johnny with the Omer Simeon Trio
Lorenzo Tio, Jr Lorenzo Tio 1893 An early pioneer, along with his father Lorenzo Tio, Sr. and uncle Luis Tio, of New Orleans jazz for reeds. Taught Sidney Bechet, Barney Bigard, Johnny Dodds, Omer Simeon, Louis Cottrell, Jr., Jimmie Noone and Albert Nicholas and others.  

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Principal Chairs in Orchestras
Name Photo Birthdate Biographical Notes Recording
Simeon Bellison Simeon Bellison Sept. 4, 1881 Born in Moscow, Russia. Was the principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra from 1920 to 1948. He arranged and has had published more than 100 pieces for clarinet and piano and for various chamber music combinations  
Stanley Drucker Stanley Drucker February 4, 1929 Principal clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra from 1960 to 2009 Von Weber Clarinet Concertino with New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Burt Hara Burt Hara   Principal Clarinetist with the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra  
Reginald Kell Reginald Kell June 8, 1906 Was the principal clarinetist at the London Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic in the 1930s and 1940s. He was Benny Goodman's teacher for several years in the 1950s. Brahms Clarinet Trio with Louis Kentner, Piano and Anthony Pinir, Cello
Karl Leister Karl Leister June 15, 1937 A German who performed with the Berlin Philharmonic for 30 years. Also internationally recognized as a major soloist and chamber musician. Brahms Clarinet Trio with Ferenc Bognar, Piano and Wolfgang Boettcher, Cello
Anthony McGill Anthony McGill   Served as the Principal Clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for over 10 years and is now the Principal Clarinet of the New York Philharmonic. Shepherd on the Rock by Franz Schubert with Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano and Sarah Shafer, soprano,
Harold Wright Harold Wright December 4, 1926 Harold Wright was the principal clarinetist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1970 until his death in 1993. Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in A Major, K. 581: I. Allegro with the Julliard Quartet

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Modern American Soloists
Name Photo Birthdate Biographical Notes Recording
Evan Christopher Evan Christopher August 31, 1969 Moved from California to New Orleans. Performed with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band in San Antonio, Texas from 1996 to 1998. Started Django à la Créole, fusing Gypsy Swing with New Orleans grooves. I'll See You In My Dreams
Buddy DeFranco Buddy DeFranco February 17, 1923 Bebop clarinetist who performed in small combos and led the Glenn Miller Orchestra from 1966 to 1974 Flying Home
Billy Novick Billy Novick 1951 An active performer, composer, and arranger. Billy Novick performs at concerts, festivals, and in the studio with a wide variety of artists. His clarinet playing can be heard on the theme songs of the PBS shows "Antiques Roadshow" and "This Old House," Marinique with the New Black Eagle Jazz Band, 1988
Richard Stoltzman Richard Stoltzman July 12, 1942 Winner of two Grammy Awards for Best Chamber Music Performance. Performs as guest soloist with many orchestras worldwide, as well as with many chamber groups, and in many solo recitals. With Boston Pops Orchestra

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International Soloists
Name Photo Birthdate Biographical Notes Recording
Acker Bilk Acker Bilk January 28, 1929 An English clarinetist probably most noted for his original piece, Stranger on the Shore. Stranger on the Shore
Alessandro Carbonare Alesandro Carbonare 1967 Principal clarinetist with the Orchestra di Santa Cecilia in Rome since 2003. He is a frequent guest soloist and master class instructor. Carlo Boccadoro's Manhattan Music
Anat Cohen Anat Cohen March 7 Israeli born, Anat's jazz quartet performs a many festivals around the world and has recorded often. After You've Gone
Paquito D'Rivera Paquito D'Rivera June 4, 1948 Cuban artist known especially for Latin jazz and winner of multiple Grammy awards.. He has performed with orchestras worldwide and extensively with his own Paquito D'Rivera Quintet. Astor Piazzolla's Oblivion,
Martin Fröst Martin Frost 1970 Swedish virtuoso soloist who performs extensively with orchestras around the world Solo improvisation encores at October 2007 concert
Emma Johnson Emma Johnson 1966 A soloist who has with many leading international orchestras in repertoire which includes over forty different concertos. Mozart's Ave Verum with the ConTempo Quartet
Sharon Kam Sharon Kam 1971 A native of Israel, she has appeared with many orchestras and festivals and has made many recordings. Krzysztof Penderecki - Quartet for Clarinet
Sabine Meyer Sabine Meyer March 30, 1959 A German clarinetist was briefly with the Berlin Philharmonic, but has since soloed extensively with orchestras around the world. She has performed and recorded often with chamber music ensembles. Poulenc Sonata for Clarinet and Piano

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Other sites featuring the clarinet
Clarinet BBoard
Clarinet Institute of Los Angeles
Clarinet repertoire and reference books
Edinburgh University's collection of historic clarinets
International Clarinet Association
Lasse Collin's jazz site
Sherman Friedland’s Clarinet Corner
Tapani Renkonen's Johnny Dodds' site


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Last updated: 3/24/2018