Historical development of the Clarinet - Philipp Dangas

Historical development of the Clarinet

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In addition to the shawms, there was also a primitive keyless single-reed instrument in the Middle Ages, the chalumeau, which had come to Western Europe from the Orient. Its original instruments were the ancient Egyptian Arghúl and the related Arabic Zummárab. The name chalumeau, like the name shawm, is derived from the Greek "κάλαμος" meaning reed.

The chalumeau had a cylindrical tube with 9 finger holes and only had the tones of the F major scale from f (minor octave ) to a' (middle octave). The mouthpiece was not a separate part, but was located on the main reed itself, with the reed resting against the player's upper lip, while the fixed part of the beak rested on the lower lip. Around 1690, the instrument maker Johann Christoph Denner (1655-1707), who was born in Leipzig and lived in Nuremberg, made the first attempts to improve this instrument, which initiated the conversion to the clarinet.

Around 1750 the instrument was given a fourth and fifth key (F#-C#2 and G#-#D#2) - presumably by Berthold Fritz from Braunschweig. A little later (1789-1791) the famous virtuoso Xavier Lefévre in Paris (1763-1829) and around the same time the equally famous clarinetists Gebrüder Stadler in Vienna added a sixth key (C#1-G#2). The instrument was used in this form up to the time of Beethoven. The clarinet sound was harsh and akin to that of the trumpet. It was therefore called Clarinetto (Italian), i.e. "small trumpet", in German clarinet. Only towards the end of the 18th century did the clarinet mouthpiece get its present form with the reed on the underside.

The clarinetist Iwan Müller (1786-1854) constructed a clarinet with 13 keys around 1810 and thus created the basis for all modern key technology. In 1842, Hyacinthe Eléonore Klosé (1808-1880), together with the Buffet company in Paris, transferred the construction of the Boehm key system to the clarinet. In Germany, Th. Mollenhauer built the Böhm clarinet in 1867. Today's technically extraordinarily complicated and high-quality "German normal clarinet" was built in 1890 by Mollenhauer and Kunze. In Germany today, the Oehler clarinet built according to the Boehm system and the one made by the Ubel company are generally used.

A striking and great example of the sound of the clarinet [Music by Igor Stravinsky]
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Use of the clarinet in music
Music composer's Work Style of music
Carl Maria von Weber 2nd Clarinet Concerto in E flat major, opus [work] 74 Orchestra
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Concerto in A major KV 622 Orchestra
Jean Françaix Clarinet Quintet 1977 Chamber music
Max Reger Quintet in A major opus [work] 146 Chamber music
Luciano Berio Sequenza IXa Soloistic