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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000094.txt from 1993/12

From: "David L. Shea" <DSHEA@-----.EDU>
Subj: Re: Ron Monson's comments on the C clarinet
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1993 10:29:17 -0500

Before I comment I must put a disclaimer that I have not researched this
topic. If I am off base, please forgive me.

It seems odd to compare Schubert and Strauss in this discussion on using
the C clarinet. The clarinets in the early 18th century were pitched in
different keys to enable them to play comfortably in different concert keys.
Although Schubert might have selected the C clarinet for color reasons, I
find it hard to believe that it wasn't selected primarily as standard
practice. I also think that Schubert probably didn't spend a great
deal of time exploring the very subtle nuances of clarinet color. It
seems to me that is after Berlioz that instrumental and ensemble colors
become more on the forefront of composers' minds. Since Strauss was
writing at a time where the change in mindset had been established for
many decades, I think it is the case that he was after the timbral subtleties
that the different clarinets could provide. To compare these two composers
in this situation doesn't seem quite right. I think there is a danger that
in our enthusiasm for our instrument, we can tend to believe that early
composers were as enthusiastic and well versed in the subtlest of
details of our instrument. I am not stating that they were not aware
of the differences between the instrument, but I think we must be
cautious about what we believe were composers thoughts, especially before

David Shea
Indiana University

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