Harold Wright in Constitution Hall , Wash. DC

Dear Mr. Friedland –

Having just discovered your site I must say how fantastic I find it. Especially the mentioning of Goodman and also Harold Wright whom I believe was at one time the principle clarinetist with the Washington DC Symphony Orchestra at a time when I lived close by in Alexandria, Virginia. Thanks for taking the time to benefit clarinet players like myself. My question has two parts. A. – why am I having some difficulty hitting middle B on my Bb Buffet clarinet which has just been overhauled … the overhaul didn’t solve the problem … I am starting to think its my reed selection and then – B. – why can I not find when my clarinet was made which model it is …. it has these numbers …. the barrel 1231 660 and the two lower barrels have 10712 on each on the back lower just above the cork. I hope to hear from you and again, thanks for the site. F S,Delray Beach, Fl

Dear FS:

Thank you for your kind letter.

My wife’s parents lived in Delray Beach,  lovely place, but I heard lately that it is completely flooded from the inclement weather

It seems that you and I were in Washington DC at the same . I was in the US Army at the time and was attending the Naval School of Music, located in Anacostia, just outside of DC
In uniform, we could attend just about any concert without admission charges. And ,it was at Constitution Hall where I first heard this incredible clarinetist, whose quality of sound I found enchanting. That Hall had very good acoustics and this fellows sound just happened to float above the orchestra, at whatever dynamic he was playing or in every piece that included  clarinet. Actually, it was somewhat of an epiphany; a surprise that made me shiver with pleasure. I was already a clarinet player, more than 60 years ago, but quite young and, at just the right age to hear this exquisite playing, seemingly effortless, yet permeating the entire Hall.

Many years later, there was an opening for 2nd clarinet in that orchestra. There were 200 contestants and I got to play for him. I did not get the job, but was told that I had come in 3rd out of the 200. Of course, a miss is as good as a mile. but it was wonderful to play for this wondrous clarinetist. Of course, years after that, Wright became the Principal in Boston and remained there until his untimely death. Symphony Hall in Boston is even acoustically superior to Constitution Hall, and the sound remained always with that special unique quality. Pertaining to the recent post on dynamics in orchestras being quite loud , for almost all playing, Harold Wright refused to go long with this practice , which developed because of subtle or not-so subtle competition existing between recording, and live performance. As a result, the woodwind dynamics in the BSO remained, “as written” rather than distorted. Of course, this is opinion, but I would hope, informed opinion.

Concerning your recently overhauled clarinet, I suggest you bring it back to the repairperson to check out the middle B. Obviously, they didn’t place the pad properly. It is an easy adjustment for a” techy” to fix. One or more of the pads are not seated properly. If it played well prior to bringing it for repair, it should be better , if not, bring it back for a check by the repairperson .

You barrel is difficult to place, as the only thing I can tell is that it is a 66mm, or seems to be. 10712 seems to be listed as having been manufactured in the mid 1920s, however, these lists of serial numbers can be found to be incorrect, and perhaps one should not take much stock in the year of manufacture. It depends on how the horn plays for you; on its response.

Hoping that this may assist you.

best wishes,

sherman

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