Clarinet Corner in “The Clarinet” magazine

December 31, 2008

Hello Mr. Friedland,

I wanted to let you know that a review of your blog will appear in the next issue of The Clarinet. I don’t know if you have seen our print column, Clarinet Cache, or our blog at, but we try to keep up with all the clarinet sites, videos, news, etc. on the web and write about the best. We thought your blog was an impressive collection of information and advice, and that our readers would enjoy visiting if they hadn’t already. Your Clarinet Corner will appear along with in our article about older, more established sites on the web. I realize that 2004 isn’t that long ago, but there are not that many sites out there that have so much content, and it seems your prolific posting has developed a loyal group of readers!

We have recently submitted the article and it will appear in the March 2009 issue, and when the issue is released we will also post it to our blog. I would have liked to have a chance to correspond with you before writing about the site, but we were on a tight deadline this time! Thanks for creating such a great resource for professional and amateur clarinetists (and people who just find clarinets in their attics)!

Happy holidays,




“The Pines of Rome” What, which and why?

December 28, 2008

Dear Professor Friedland
Could you recommend some recordings of The Pines of Rome by Respighi which have the best renditions of the famous clarinet solo?
Thank you
Kent Spielmann

Hello KS
Thank your your query concerned with
The Pines of Rome”, by Ottorino Resphigi.
It would a relatively simple matter to give you a list of my favorite recording by Resphigi, for as many cklarinetists, I have had a life long interest in his works, especially those featurng the clarinet . following is a basic biographical treatise on Resphigi, who was for the most part of his life a violinist, coposing mny string quartets as well as performing with them.
But he gave up his performance in order to develope his compositional talents whch were gift for orchestration and for insrumentation comes from his own talents, but also those gainedby studying with both Max Bruch and Nicolai Rimsky Korsakov, though his composition seems by contrast to be totally original and imaginative.
You will see at the conclusion of this, a long list of recordings of various of the works by Resphigi, which I hope witll certainly assist in answeri g your initial question, however I would hasten to ask the following criteria to assist yo in your choice of which you feel is best for you.
1. The basic tonal quality of the clarinetist.
2 .he legato quality of the player, perhaps most important for this work
3. the actual recording itself.
its quality, clarity, accuracy.
For all of the above you will need to have acquired the ability to discern all of the above. Perhaps you have already achieved this. If not, it may serve as a handy reminder of what to listen for so as to base your own opinion, which is most important.

Most sincerely, and cordially.


Ottorino Respighi was born in Bologna, Italy. He was taught piano and violin by his father, who was a local piano teacher. He continued studying violin and viola with Federico Sarti at the Liceo Musicale in Bologna, composition with Giuseppe Martucci, and historical studies with Luigi Torchi, a scholar of early music. In 1900, Respighi went to Russia to be principal violist in the orchestra of the Russian Imperial Theatre in St Petersburg during its season of Italian opera; while there he studied composition for five months with Rimsky-Korsakov. He also had composition lessons with Max Bruch in 1902 in Berlin. Until 1908 his principal activity was as first violin in the Mugellini Quintet, before turning his attention entirely to composition.
Respighi moved to Rome in 1913 and lived there for the rest of his life, after being appointed a teacher of composition at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia. He married a former pupil, singer Elsa Olivieri-Sangiacomo, in 1919. From 1923 to 1926 he was director of the Conservatorio. In 1925 he collaborated with Sebastiano Arturo Luciani on an elementary textbook entitled Orpheus.
Respighi maintained an uneasy relationship with Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party during his later years. He vouched for more outspoken critics such as Arturo Toscanini, allowing them to continue to work under the regime.[1] Feste Romane, the third part of his Roman trilogy, was premiered by Toscanini and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1929; Toscanini recorded the music twice forRCA Victor, first with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1942 and then with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in 1949, and RCA released both versions, first on LP and then CD. Respighi’s music had considerable success in the USA: the Toccata for piano and orchestra was premiered (with Respighi as soloist) underWillem Mengelberg with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in November 1928, and the large-scale theme and variations entitled Metamorphoseon was a commission for the fiftieth anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
In his role as musicologist, Respighi was also an enthusiastic scholar of Italian music of the 16th-18th centuries. He published editions of the music of Claudio Monteverdi and Antonio Vivaldi, and ofBenedetto Marcello’s Didone. Because of his devotion to these older figures and their styles of composing, it is tempting to see him as a typical exponent of Neo-classicism. In fact, Neo-Renaissanceor Neo-Baroque would probably more accurately describe his compositions that are based on earlier work. Respighi generally kept clear of the musical idiom of the classical period, unlike most neo-classical composers. He preferred combining pre-classical melodic styles and musical forms (like dance suites) with typical late 19th century romantic harmonies and textures.
He died in his Roman villa named “I Pini”. A year after his burial, his remains were moved to his birthplace Bologna and reinterred at the city at the cost of Bologna.
[edit]Selected Recordings

Note: The Roman Trilogy is one of the most ubiquitous works in the catalogue, and has been recorded by all the major world ensembles under many prominent conductors. The recording of the first two withFritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is one of the most respected in the catalogue and features prominently in recommended listings in such publications as the Good CD Guide and thePenguin Guide to CDs.
I Pini di Roma/Feste Romane/Fontane di Roma – Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano, (EMI Classics)
I Pini di Roma/Fontane di Roma – Chicago Symphony Orchestra/ Fritz Reiner, (RCA) (on JVC in Japan)
I Pini di Roma/Feste Romane/Fontane di Roma – Montreal Symphony Orchestra/ Charles Dutoit, (Decca)
I Pini di Roma/Feste Romane/Fontane di Roma – NBC Symphony Orchestra/ Arturo Toscanini, (RCA)
I Pini di Roma/Feste Romane/Fontane di Roma – Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/ Enrique Bátiz, (Naxos)
Brazilian Impressions/Metamorphoseon – Philharmonia Orchestra/ Geoffrey Simon, (Chandos)
Ancient Airs and Dances I-III (Antiche Aire e Danze) – Philharmonia Hungarica/ Antal Doráti, (Mercury Records)
Ancient Airs and Dances I-III (Antiche Aire e Danze) – National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland/ Rico Saccani, (Naxos)
I Pini di Roma/Fontane di Roma/The Birds (Gli Uccelli) – London Symphony Orchestra/ István Kertész, (Decca)
Church Windows (Vetrate di Chiesa) – Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/ Jesus Lopez-Cobos, (Telarc)
Three Botticelli Pictures (Trittico Botticelliano)/The Birds – Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra/ Sir Neville Marriner, (EMI Classics)
Belkis, Queen of Sheba – Suite / Metamorphoseon – Theme & Variations – Philharmonia Orchestra/Geoffrey Simon, (Chandos)
Suite in G for Organ and Strings – Robert Boughen / Queensland Symphony Orchestra / Vanco Cavdarski, (ABC Classics)
Pines of Rome/ Fountains of Rome/ Metamorphoseon Modi XII – Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/Jesús López-Cobos (Telarc)

The Selmer Artys…or ?

December 22, 2008

Hello, Sherman – I am a big fan of your website! Do you have any insight, or opinion on the Selmer Artys clarinets (specifically the A)? I need to buy my own A clarinet, but at this time can not afford an r13 to go with my Bb. The semler artys A clarinets seem like theyre all on sale on retailers’ websites, some as low as $1200. I remember these clarinets being much more expensive in the past. Any help on this would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!0

Dear Sir:
I ordered an Artys A clarinet. It arrived in perfect condition, having two barrels, however there was space only for one in the case proper, so the second had to be left in the bell. The case is a good looking Selmer canvas covered case, however there is no actual case under the canvas, simply the wooden shell. This makes the case dangerous because it must be zipped properly , and the zipper is almost invisible. If you happen to have a dog or cat in the house, it will shed every hair onto the case itself. That’s this particular Selmer case. Handsome and expensive but to me, obviously this had been a set of Bb and A which had been split when they closed out the clarinets to the Big box seller. The closeout price of 1199.00 (they are all gone now) was terrific, but it is a horn pitched at 442, which may or may not be good for you.
In this situation, I would look to the manufacturer: Selmer. They are a wonderful company and seldom if ever have they put an inferior product on the market. One may like or dislike the Artys, however itis a Selmer A clarinet and for 1199.00, that is a good buy, since the list was somewhere around 5 thousand. I do not like the adjustable thumb rest as it is placed badly, doesn’t adjust very much or enough and I found it too narrow.
If you want my opinion, the best A clarinet for you would be the Lyrique having the approximate same price tag and is a better player than the Artys.

Good luck.



Selmer Signet, help in appraisal

December 20, 2008

Mr. Sherman

Can you please advise me?
In your opinion how much a used Selmar Signet 100 wooden clarinet would cost in excellent condition ?
Thanks very much

Hello d:
Depending upon condition,( cracks or other pitting detracts), the instrument will be worth in the condition we describe upwards of 200. (that’s, no wear on keys, no cracks looks somewhat new to the cursory glance.) It may be good time to be as informational as possible concerning age and its influence on cost of instrument aged clarinet.
By and large, a clarinet doesn’t appreciate; rather the opposite is true. Depreciation is the magic word here, not as unfortunate as in the case of a vehicle but certainly along those lines.
This is especially true with models of clarinets considered “not high end”. Signets, Vitos, Normandy . None of the plastic Yamahas tend to appreciate, while the upper moving models do better in the world of price.
It is always good to try to have your clarinet( to sell) completely renovated, which includes keys all stripped, instrument soaked in oil, keys buffed and repadded, all corks repaired and the entire instrument gone over for cracks or fissures of any kind. Because many clarinets are not completely blown out at sale time, the overhaul is a great idea Blown out seldom occurs, but does happen after about 10 to 20,years of being played.
good luck.

Sherman Friedland

The Selmer C85 Mouthpiece

December 16, 2008

Hello Sherman,

I currently own a Selmer Recital clarinet, but I find that my current mouthpiece (A. Gigliotti) makes it difficult to get a full tone due to the closed nature of the mouthpiece itself. I was thinking of buying a Selmer C85 but was unsure if the claims of it producing the loud and full it advertises were true. Have you tried this mouthpiece out or heard anything about it? Please advise.

~A. F.

Dear A F
How glad I am to have received your question. I played a set of Recital Clarinets when they first arrived on the scene; it must have been somewhere around 1988-90 or so. I found the Bb, which had been a sample the representative had been showing around.
I liked the instrument so much that I almost immediately ordered an A to go with the Bb and a nice case to match the set. They had such a beautiful and even quality., I remember being ecstatic, or something similar which occurs when we find what we think is a great instrument,one that’s different in a very good way.
At that time I was playing on some kind of other mouthpiece, the name having left my memory.
I soon discovered some peculiarities with this mouthpiece having to do with tuning: the low F was quite flat, and others as well.
I investigated the mouthpiece and the clarinet with the Selmer Company. (I was st the time a Selmer clinician.)
Much to my surprise, I found that the mouthpiece that had been designed to be used with this Recital Clarinet was none other than the C85,which at the time was new on the market.
There were three different available: the 105, the 115, and the 120, these numbers corresponding to tip openings.
I found the mouthpiece to be better than the usual Selmer HS* or the C*, o the other Selmers I had been playing.
I selected the 120 as my favorite, but I also tried the other two and found them all to be quite different, depending of course on which side of the bed I woke up on or with, all mouthpieces being different from each other, regardless of make or facing.
But the C85 was the mouthpiece to be used with the Recital. This was my answer, from Selmer, and from my own many experiences playing it.
As far as mouthpieces are concerned, you have to understand that we are talking about a different internal bore and a different thickness of material. Actually, the clarinet was called by many as either “the fat clarinet”, or “The log”.
I would definitely think that the mouthpiece will produce better results than the Gigliotti. It is just a better finished mouthpiece and measures more accurately. The last remark is certainly my understanding, knowing what I do know concerning the Gigliotti, for never have I actually played one. I did try one, but was not impressed.

Best regards,
Sherman Friedland

A Life of Music and Engineering

December 12, 2008

Hello, Sherman (if I can be so informal),


(After writing to you, more memories surged forth. As I held my Buffet, I remembered that I had taken it to Hans Moenig to tune the instrument. For some reason, he was reluctant to deal with the Academy model, so he had Kasimir, one of his workers, do the job. Kasimir did not play very well, but due to age deference, I sat second chair to him in the Stenton Hills Symphony Orchestra. He had an A clarinet (R13?) that was one of the most magnificent sounding instruments I had ever heard.)

Mr. Friedland,

I was doing a bit of reminiscing about my clarinet experiences of long ago…long, long ago, and looking at clarinet sites on the ‘net when I came upon your site. For some reason, your site resonated with me and I took my Buffet Academy Model down from the shelf where it had sat for many years. I placed a #4 reed on the mouthpiece and could hardly get a sound. I tried an old 3 1/2 and it still was too hard. I ultimately settled on a 2 1/2 and tried to play. Within 10 minutes, I had the dreaded vibrato due to the muscle fatigue in my jaw. It was almost funny if it wasn’t so embarrassing. Lots of skill and fine motor skill can be lost in 25 years of not playing! Still, it was very pleasant to hold the clarinet in my hands again. And, it was all triggered by reading articles on your site.

I am a professor of environmental engineering at an engineering university in Colorado, having given up on becoming a professional clarinetist back in about 1967 or so (when I was drafted). Still, I played through the 70s with amateur groups like the Stenton Hills Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Club of Philadelphia as an avocation. In the 80s, in Virginia, I played clarinet and sax in amateur big (swing) bands. Believe it or not, when I came to Colorado in late 1985, I switched to playing Bluegrass banjo! Thus, my clarinet began its long-term residence on its designated shelf space until I picked it up again in the late 80s to start my son out on the instrument. His interest didn’t last long as his life focus was on ice hockey, not classical music. Then, my Buffet sat again, forlorn, on the shelf for so many years.

Perhaps my studies with Guido Mecoli, Joseph Gigliotti and a few lessons with his son Anthony did not go for naught. My performing desires have faded, but my love for classical music and clarinet that they instilled in me have not. Maybe even at the age of 61 I might even start playing again. I still have my Klose and other books I learned from back then. Maybe the local Jefferson County (Colorado) Symphony Orchestra will have a clarinet position open after I have started to practice regularly.

Thank you for the educational and inspirational site.

Best Regards,

1890 Buffet

December 7, 2008
Dear Mr. Friedland,
I chanced upon your site while looking for information on the Buffet clarinet I inherited from my dad. It is wonderful! Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us all!
Dad’s horn is an Albert Buffet that I have learned from the serial number was made in 1890. He played it beautifully, especially his first love, Dixieland Jazz. I last played my Bundy in 1968, but in the last month have been (attempting) to learn the Albert system, get my lip back, and do honor to both Dad and to that beautiful Buffet machine. So far I can sqeak better than I ever have before.
I have no question, just a “thanks” for being there for folks like me. I’d forgotten how much enjoyment playing the clarinet brings — especially knowing that it’s “My Old Man’s”.
Best regards,
Hi Jim:

Many thanks for your kind remarks. Really nice to hear. Keep practicing.
best regards, Sherman

All things considered: It’s Lyrique

December 5, 2008

Hi Mr. Friedland.

I’ve been reading your thoughts both on your blog and on the clarinet bulletin board regarding Tom Ridenour’s Lyrique Bb clarinet made of hard rubber. I’ve read much about this clarinet and am very curious about it. Even tempted to purchase one. I’ve read your articles about the sweetness of tone, the evenness, the responsiveness etc. Others have said similar positive things about the Lyrique.

Here’s the rub…I’m in the market and have been looking for a clarinet not as expensive as a new Buffet R13. I was considering the Leblanc Cadenza. Then…I saw your article and others about the Lyrique. Would you suppose there could be prejudice or bias against a hard rubber instrument?

Not asking for your opinion. I’m just wondering if you have experienced this kind of resistance, and what I can only regard as bias based on preconceived notions and not fact.

Thanks for your site and your considered opinion regarding Lyrique.


Hello :
Thank you for your note with its commentary and questions. To begin with, I have tried and played them all: Buffet, Selmer, Yamaha, Leblanc, all levels of manufacture and I have experienced bias and unfounded prejudice all of my musical career, which is now more than 60 years.
Prejudice and bias are a couple of things that exist much more, if  not exclusively in your own mind. Seldom does a peer or a colleague intone those words of bias and prejudice. Mostly they are inferences, are they not? 
Let us say, you choose to purchase the R13. You will receive the congratulatory comments from those who respect the brand and the model, though not all do. And there will be the inevitable comparisons. “Is you barrel stuck to the first joint of your horn?” Why is your throat Bb so different from all of the notes around it?” “And why is it sharp?” And on and on like that. The Buffet R13 though revered, is far from a perfect instrument. In fact, they have more problems than any other so-called first-tier clarinet. I can list at least a dozen, if not more. And of course, you must add to that the price which is totally prohibitive, the comment “you get what you pay for” is absolutely untrue, but simply a way of turning your opinion in another direction.
Or you could turn to a Yamaha instrument, one of their top models. This clarinet will play much better in tune and will be received with many fewer errors of manufacture. It’s a fairly well-known fact that the best Yamahas are among the best horns to be had and they are much less expensive, perhaps by a third .
Selmer does not play as well and is slightly more expensive than Yamaha, but has beautiful workmanship and will always be a great instrument. The Leblanc-Cadenza seems to have Morrie Backuns name attached and that name is known much more for fine furniture in music than it is for fine clarinets. At least that is what I have heard within the business.
Lyrique and hard rubber is the best buy, notwithstanding the possible feelings of bias and prejudice . It will never crack and for many years hard rubber has been known to have a sweeter more dulcet quality than does grenadilla or mpingo .
If you like silver plated keys, forget about hard rubber or the Lytirique because there is an unsavory chemical reaction; I think it’s called sulphuric acid.
The current Lyrique comes with the so-called ergonomic register key, a key which is shaved off at the ring . I do not like it, but you may.I also do not see its need at all.
It is probably well-known that I feel that the Lyriques thumb rest is poorly placed and is uncomfortable . Those are however, small matters when compared to bias and prejudice, which can be pervasive.
Or you can get a Lyrique and bring it to your first encounter with other clarinetists and be greeted by”hey, congratulations!. I’ve heard about this horn. How do you like it? May I try it? Hey it sounds sweeter than my Buffet, or gee, the Bb feels the same as the other notes and it is right in tune, and the whole horn is more even. Your teaher may have similar feelings, but initially there will be inferences of bias and prejudice. Most clarinet teachers are simply terrible in this way and there have been many separations between them because of horns chosen.
Those are your options. The choice is yours. Bias and prejudice are more feelings than actualities. Most important is your feeling of the qualities of your clarinet.

Best regards, Sherman

“Now”.-Fritz Reiner (to Mitchell Lurie)

December 1, 2008

November 30, 2008,Mitchell Lurie, who died at age 86 was the quintessential clarinetist, perhaps emulated by all who understood the great beauty of his quality and lyricism, but perhaps unknown to many. His great years were in the 40s through the 60s, but he continued to be heard as the finest clarinetist who ever graced a motion picture for many years. I always thought of him and his lyricism when I played and he really had the special quality and ability to express that which  we all look for, but find very seldom.

Many of those times when you went to the movies and heard that wonderful playing, it was Lurie. I’m writing this because there was a rather beautiful episode related in the newspaper today.

It was Luries first year at the Curtis Institution, and he was asked to play in the Curtis Orchestra the day that Fritz Reiner made his first appearance of the semester.

While performaing a solo during the the rehearsal, Lurie noticed that Reiner continued to peer at him over his Ben Franklin glasses. At the end of the rehearsal Reiner said he’d like to have a word with the young musician.

“We went backstage and he said to me, “I need a principal clarinetist in Pittsburgh”.

Lurie recalled, “My heart went straight up through my teeth.”But not now, he said, “you must get your schooling; that’s the most important thing for you right now. But when you graduate, you are my first clarinetist.”

“Inside, I was screaming, NO, no, take me Now!” Because in our business so many people make so many promisies.

But three years later, on Lurie’s graduation day, a telegram arrived. All it said was: “Now”.- Fritz Reiner.

Lurie later told his sons, as the end neared, “I played my song, and I played it well.

Now, go practise, with love,

Sherman Friedland