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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000164.txt from 2001/04

From: Daniel Leeson <>
Subj: Re: [kl] A Mozart question
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2001 13:17:52 -0400

There are some inaccuracies in what you wrote, so I apolgize in advance
for making some corrections to what you said and guiding the responses
in that direction.

The Druce edition is not for clarinets but for basset horns. Now there
may well be clarinet parts made available by the publisher for those
orchestras who don't have basset horns, but that is not Druce's
suggestion. I played the first performance of that version in the U.S.
and Druce and I were in communication about a few things.

I add that the Sussmayr edition also has clarinet parts in place of the
bassets in the Kalmus publication. It's not strange. You can get the
Gran Partitta with 4 clarinet parts, too. That's not a composer
decision, but a publishing decision.

The third edition to which you referred is by Bob Levin and the switch
to A clarinets comes at the Sanctus (and the connecting Hosanna fugue)
not at the Agnus Dei as your note indicated.

The reason for the switch is 100% solid. That particular section of the
Requiem is, in the Sussmayr edition, played on basset horns in the key
of written A major, a key that has absolutely no precedent in any Mozart
composition. In fact, Mozart never wrote for clarinet in more than 1
sharp, and he used 1 sharp itself on only 7 occasions, each one of which
he did so very reluctantly because it was not a key to be used for
clarinets. Every clarinet tutor from that epoch speaks against using
the clarinet in keys with any sharps.

Why this is the case is a long and complicated story and if you are
interested get a copy of the 1998 Mozart Jahrbuch and read the article
about the key signatures for Mozart's clarinet writing.

Levin, faced with his revised version of the Sanctus, recognized this
and refused to use basset horns in written A major. He could have used
basset horns in G but chose to use clarinets in A which are well within
Mozart's self-imposed restrictions on what keys could be used for

Dan Leeson

Janet McNaught wrote:
> A friend of mine is playing in a performance of the Mozart Requiem this
> weekend - they will be playing basset horns. He is familiar with
> (among others) the Sussmayr edition of the Requiem that uses basset
> horns, and with the Druce version that uses clarinets.
> He has also played an edition that uses basset horns for everything but
> the Agnus Dei, for which clarinets are used. This was explained on the
> basis of historical accuracy - Mozart would not have used basset horns
> with the particular combination of instruments and / or singers in that
> portion of the Requiem. We don't know which edition calls for this
> switch to clarinets. Can anyone elaborate on the historical basis (if
> any) for this switch?
> Thanks
> Janet
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