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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000791.txt from 2004/10

From: "dnleeson" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Mozart, Don Giovanni, and Tony Pay
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 2004 11:16:55 -0400

It is not the only case of him writing for clarinets in this key.
There is one section of one of the Handel arrangements that also
puts the clarinet sin 4 flats, but by that time, it was legal so
he did it.

I advise the list that Keith Bowen (whose note is below) did the
Non piu di fiori witha soprano at the University of Nevada, Las
Vegas, and did a very splendid performance of it, too. That's
why he was so interested in Tony's perspective of the piece.

Dan Leeson

-----Original Message-----
From: Keith []
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2004 7:03 AM
Subject: [kl] Mozart, Don Giovanni, and Tony Pay


From hanging about with you, I'd say it was because four flats
was an
illegal key for clarinet writing at the time. Is this the only
case of
Mozart writing in this key, or did he ever use the four flat key

He had the right idea. I think it still should be illegal :-).

The broadcast is great. I have not listened to the concerto yet,
just to Non
Piu di Fiori. Awesome! A beautiful sound. It is interesting that
one can
tell where the cross fingerings occur on the period basset horn.

Keith Bowen

Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 13:29:48 -0700
To: ">
From: "dnleeson" <>
Subject: Mozart, Don Giovanni, and Tony Pay
Message-ID: <>

The clarinet problem is that in the first 30 measures for the
Mozart deliberately writes for the instruments in the wrong key.
correct. He does it wrong on purpose. And I've checked the
manuscript in
Mozart's hand (a copy of which I own, so we talking about the
skinny here), and that's the way it is in the autograph, I assure

So here are the facts and then a question or two for the curious
among you.

The overture to the opera is in the key of concert d minor. For
this key,
Mozart explicitly calls for a pair of A clarinets. What this
means is that
the key signature of the first twenty measures should be that of
f minor or

So why does Mozart write the clarinet parts in one flat? Not only
is it the
wrong key, but he must personally write flats for e, a, and d in
order to
get the other normally flatted notes played correctly. So in the
very first
measure, he flats the a of the second clarinet. And he also has
to juggle
the accidentals by hand for either the first or second clarinet
(or both)
for measures 19, 20, 25, 27, 28, and 29. That is, if he had
written the
part using the correct key of four flats for the A clarinets, he
would not
have needed to add those otherwise unnecessary accidentals; i.e.,
notes would have been flatted by virtue of the key signature.

At measure 31 of the overture, the work slips from concert d
minor to
concert d major and the A clarinets are happily left in the key
of one
written flat which is exactly what they need for a piece in
concert D major.

So the question to the list is this: why did Mozart deliberately
write in
the wrong key for a pair of A clarinets for 30 full measures??
(And as an
ancillary question, why did he not use a B-flat or C clarinet in
overture? Why was he almost compelled to call for A clarinets
which he then
wrote for in the wrong key for 30 measures?)

Dan Leeson

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