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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000132.txt from 1997/03

From: Francis Firth <>
Subj: How many kinds of clarinet
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 1997 04:40:00 -0500

In addition to those mentioned (Ab, Eb, D, C, B, Bb, A, G, F, Eb, C Bass, Bb
Bass, A Bass, Eb Contra-alto, Bb Contrabass) the following pitches have also
been made:
High G - still used in Viennese Schrammel Music (ensemble of high G
clarinet, 2 violins, bass guitar)
Octave clarinets in C, Bb and A.
Those in A and in C advertised in 19th century makers' catalogues, those in
Bb still made in metal (simple system) as late as the 1950s for export to
Peru by Kalison of Italy.
Clarinets in high C with recorder-like fingering have also been made for
children. There is a specimen in the Bate Collection in Oxford (England).
There is a surviving specimen in high A in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The specimen in high Bb in the Museum of the Brussels Conservatoire was
stolen about a decade ago.
Clarinet in high F. Now obsolete but used in military music in the late 18th
and early 19th century and scored for by Beethoven and Mendelssohn in some
of their military band music.
Clarinet in high E - mentioned by a couple of 18th century writers but now
Clarinet in Db - according to Albert Rice, used in 19th century British
military bands.
Clarinet in Ab, the alternative pitch to G for the obsolete clarinettes
Contra-alto clarinet in G - apparently made in the 1930s now obsolete
Contra-alto clarinet in F - also obsolete
Contrabass clarinet in A - Schoenberg apparently asks for this in one of his
scores but I'm not sure if they were ever actually made in this pitch
Octo-contralto clarinet in Eb - 1 octave below the contra-alto. 3 were made
by leblanc in the late 1960s/early 1970s but no longer manufactured because
they were not financially viable. Apparently a special one-off model of the
same pitch was made for Lucien Cailliet at the request of composer Lalo
Schifrin for use in his theme music for the 1960s TV series Mission
Octocontrabass clarinet in Bb. Only 1 ever made, experimentally, by Leblanc
in 1939.
Presumably never developed further because of the 2nd World War.

If you wish to hear a piece using (nearly) all the currently existing sizes
try Gary Paul Nash's Scherzo for clarinet choir of Ab, Eb, D, C, 2 Bb, 2 A,
Basset Horn, Eb Alto, Bb Bass, Eb Contra-alto and Bb Contrabass clarinets.
The piece is mentioned in a recent issue of Clarinet Journal in an article
on new clarinet music by Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr (Spelling?) and a score and
performance tape (not particularly well-played. especially by the Ab player)
are available from the composer.

A clarinet choir piece, Mirrors in Ebony, including the 2 Leblanc
subcontrabass clarinets has been written by Norwegian clarinettist Terje
Lerstad (he has actually played the instruments in the Leblanc factory then
in Paris in the 1970s). A score is available from the Norwegian Music
Infromation centre who have an Internet Web page. Lerstad has also written a
Trio Sonata for subbass recorder, octocontrabass clarinet, harmonium and
Francis Firth

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