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Cracking Clarinet Classics

Classical Academy | Instruments


The largest of the woodwind families, the clarinet family comprises more than a dozen types, from as low as the octo-contrabass to the very high piccolo clarinet. Deriving its name initially from the Italian for a kind of trumpet, the clarino, the clarinet started life with a strident tone very similar to its eponymous cousin. Invented in Germany around the turn of the 18th century, the clarinet has come to have an important place not only in the orchestra (by Beethoven's time) but also, later, in many jazz ensembles. Mozart in particular loved the sound of the clarinet, believing its tone to be the closest in instrumental quality to the human voice.


In the 19th century, clarinet sections in the orchestra began to grow before, in the 20th century, composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler started to request up to 9 players. The practise of using a variety of clarinets to achieve different sounds and tonalities became common practise from then on. As a jazz instrument, swing clarinetists such as Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw propelled the instrument to jazz fame.


Celebrate the best of this fabulous instrument with our selection of cracking clarinet classics.