Rosario Mazzeo in the world of Music and the clarinet.

Dear Sherman Friedland,

I am V O G, a Spanish clarinet player. I am in the last year of clarinet studies in Conservatorio Superior de Castellon (Valencia, Spain), and in the spanish teaching system, we have to research about the clarinet, clarinet makers, inventors, players… I took part in the Claremont Clarinet Festival in 2007 and 2008, and get an special relationship with h Director, Margaret Thornhill. I learned from her a lot of things during that weeks, and I took my first contact with the name of Rosario Mazzeo. She plays with Mazzeo System, and taught following his phylosophy. I was very impressed with that person, and I have choosen Rosario Mazzeo for research in my final project.

We don’t have neither book of Mazzeo in spanish, nor translation, nor any other book speaking about him. For that, I would like to get the information in the better way, listening in the first hand the impressions of their students. This is the reason that I am writting you, I have read that you studied with Mazzeo, and I ask for your collaboration, if you wish. I will divide my research into three principal parts, Mazzeo as Clarinetist, Mazzeo as Teacher, and Mazzeo as Inventor. I will be very thanked to you, if you can contribute to my project any thing related with Mazzeo, anecdote, student experience, your experience with his system, and everything that you think interesting to my project.

Thank you very much for your time. I hope you can help me.
Dear Mr Ortiz:

The many contributions made by Rosario Mazzeo to the clarinet fraternity concern themselves with his innovation with the Mazzeo System Clarinet, an instrument which in its full system served to cut away many inherent mechanism difficulties of the basic technic, including the Bb located in the throat register. This has really not been solved by anyone else, not Stubbins, nor Rossi nor anyone who has added any keys or mechanism to the instrument. It works simply by opening the best Bb there is and facilitates it with a way of opening the third trill key easily and without problems. Others do not achieve this simple mechanistic and musical problem. The whole way of playing rapidly and with great facility achieves as well an advance in the embouchure as there is simply less one needs to do to play the best Bb. Of course, the problem of playing around that register by adding or subtracting fingers in order to provide” resonance” is simply not something that is used at all. In the years I played the Mazzeo Clarinet as Principal in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, I never ever had a problem with leaving extra fingers down. It simply doesn’t help and getting rid of the problem was a great relief. Everything I had to play became relatively simply technically, period. There were no exceptions. The full boehm Mazzeo System was necessary and provided a great help to me in all ways.The duplicatearticulated G# and the B-C#(low e-f#) were of significant importance in maintaining perfectly smooth execution. All in all, I must say that I always feltmuch more complete in technical execution than with ordinary boehm, the problems of which werealways a new problem.But the passage of time has provedmy efforts less than the implication of the status-quo, the ordinar Boehm clarinet.What a disappointment for Rosie; you see,his system was only available on a Selmer clarinet, an instrument not greatly in vogue in the symphony orchestra, except for Boston, where everyone played Selmer. So goes thesymphony,so goes the town, we all played Selmer. It is a much refined bore and clarinet now, however Rosie left us more than a dozen years ago, and with him, so died his patents.Had he had the wearwithall to moveabout as much as he did in younger years,he would have hookedup with Buffet or with Yamah.Thingswould have been different.There was too much doubt in the eyes of the rest of the students and their teachers. That is of course, my reason for disdain of the Buffet clarinet.The only really good Buffets were the ones worked on by knowledgable technicians like Hans Moennig of Philadelphia. Or those who understaood clarinet voicing and tuning and were able to make the changes necessary. The clarinet business in the US is totally different now, as many principals play Selmer, as does Morales of the Philadelphia or Larry Combs who plays the Opus of Leblanc, designed by Ridenour. Eddie Danielstoo plays the Leblanc clarinet.

Mazzeo was also the best Bass Clarinetist, but prior to that he was the best Eb clarinetists for it was he who created the distinctive way of playing the solo in “El Salon Mexico” by Copland, but if you listen to that solo you will hear that he really did it better than anyone has since, mostly because he understood the harmony and took advantage of it.
As far as the Bass is concerned , listen  to the the William Schumann third symmphony and you will hear a Bass clarinet solo, so rapid and nimble and into the altissima that it has not been approached since. The work was written with Rosie in mind.
Of course, Mazzeo was a noted photographer, having worked  with Ansel Adams and Bret 0Weston. He is also remembered as being an ornithologist .
Of course he was the personnel manager of the Boston symphony and it was he who was the first to introduce playing “behind  the screen” for the audition .
As far as the significance of all of the above, the clarinetists who read this will know, for it is different for each of you.
The fact that the patents were not taken up by any number of large companies when Mazzeos patent with Selmer ran out was not   the fault of his clarinet, but of the clarinetist fraternity that didn’t “buy it” because it was only available on Selmer.
As far as a teacher,for me, he was the best of any. I studied with him much before his retirement from the BSO,in a time when the activity on Saturday morning was never less than a maelstrom of teaching and learning.He was a rough rough teacher, but the best there was. I fought with him many times, and apologized many times as well. What else what I supposed to do?

Thank you for your note and your request. Please feel free to use any or all of the articles on this entire site to explore for material on Rosario Mazzeo. Certainly there is lots of it, and you are welcome to use any or all. (Please accord all submission their origin as being this website..
Rosario Mazzeo was as I have mentioned, my teacher for 6 six years at the New England Conservatory. I studied with him at the height of the publicity or his new clarinet and benefitted considerably from both his tutelage and his instrument, which I firmly believe was the clarinet that gave me the most freedom of any I had played in musical expression and control of the instrument. He was also a photographer, ornithologist and the manager(personnel ) of the Boston Symphony for more than 30 years.There are many many articles concerned with his many contributions to the clarinet world. I was both a clinician for the instrument for the Selmer Company and  am proud to say Rosie was my friend for many years.
Most sincerely,
Sherman Friedland


there are many Mazzeo System Clarinets still out there, but less full boehm and the one thing that needs to be noted is that these instruments need to be adjusted perfectly, and they are seldom in this pristine condition which is necessary for the instruments to function properly. There are collectors who really have no knowledge of proper condition. The value of these instruments becomes only intrinsic. I have seen overhauled instruments completely redone and not capable of the simplest articulations. I learned myself how to make the proper adjustments playing them in a professional situation.SF


One Response to Rosario Mazzeo in the world of Music and the clarinet.

  1. […] experiencee of freelance performing. He has worked with Noel Lee in Paris, and with Ned Rorem and Rosario Mazzeo of the Boston Symphony. Since moving to the San Francisco Bay Area eight years ago, Quist has […]

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