The following was received from Mr Ridenour: The original article has been amended to include Harold Wright. sf
Sherman, that’s a very nice article–I appreciate your kind comments about the work I try to do. But it’s good to see that someone (you) is taking the time to remind younger players of the history we both lived through and the people we admired and appreciated. I did note you left out my most, most favorite clarinetist from that time: Harold Wright. What an superb musician—a real artist of the first rank.
I think it’s important to note, as you said, the clarinet has changed very little—much less than any other woodwind–even less than the Bassoon. Why? I think it’s because the Boehm system clarinet is a miracle of simplicity and completeness. It has such a perfect balance of simplicity and completeness to such a degree that any additions offered over the years have been largely resisted.
This, of course, is not true with the Albert design, which has morphed into the so-called Öhler system, or the Deutsch system, which is a mechanical monstrosity–and it still is not as facile a system as the basic Boehm system.
The Boehm system was a real stroke of genius, and almost all of the proposed additions have been rejected because, even though they might offer one or two advantages from the basic Boehm, they take away a dozen the Boehm offers in its original state. For instance, Mazzeo offered the enlarged side trill keys for better timbre of B and C using the side keys. Did we really need that? No. Any competent player would hardly use that–but, enlarging those tone holes takes away about 30 or more fingerings in the altissimo, because the enlargements ruin their resistance and tuning.
This, with all due respect, is marginal thinking on Mazzeo’s behalf–or, at least, that’s how I see it.
And so it goes. Oops, gotta run. Thanks again for a great article.