Benny Goodman ” Avalon” the whole story

October 30, 2014

Like many of you, Benny Goodman was my inspiration to play the clarinet. Soon after I started, I found him, wore glasses like, listened to all his records, followed his career in swing and jazz and his study with Reginald Kell, his commissions of “Contrasts”, by Bela Bartok, The Copland Clarinet Concerto, Darius Milhaud Clarinet Concerto and all of the others. I listened to the first radio performance of the Copland on NBC radio in 1947, and was a devotee of him and his music for much of his life. AS i’ve written previously, I met him while in the Milwaukee Symphony, and reminisced about his complaints about the local musicians who played in his “pickup” quartet.
I had to play both the DFebussy Rhapsody and the Weber Concertino in rehearsal with the Orchestra. He just came ih, asked me if I played any Jazzand we went to the hall. He said to us all, “playing in this hall is like spitting in the ocean”, and then played with the most relaxed unforced sound I thought I had ever heard.
The version of “Avalon” in this writing is almost the same as he played on his Carnegie Hall Concert in 1938.
I still listen to it quite frequently and always find it quite wonderful. I wish I aged as well as Avalon.
But, wait a minute! there is a very interesting story to tell as well concerning this old standard.
It has to do with another famous clarinet solo, from the Third Act of “Tosca” by Giacomo Puccini, composed in 1900. The clarinet solo of which I speak is in the third act of the opera. ” E lucevan le stelle”, which is like Avalon, but in minor. It speaks of the heros love of Tosca, before he is executed and Tosca commits suicide. (yes, it is dark, but one of the most sensually gorgeous works one will ever hear. It certainly affected me in that way.

In 1921, the famous pop singer, Al Jolson, recorded “Avalon”, which became very popular. It is virtually the same melody as Puccinis, but in major, rather than minor. Puccinis estate sued Jolson and the other authors of the pop tune, and Puccini was awarded 25,000, a huge amount of money in the 20s.

If you wish to listen to the Aria from Tosca, it can be found on YouTube, its title,” E lucevan le stelle”. There are many versions. Certainly best is Luciano Pavarotti.

The Benny Goodman  (also found on youtube)version is simply called “Avalon” with Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa. and Teddy Wilson, Avalon being a place in California. Somehow the two seem to have  little comparison. But that is not the way the law suit was settled.

Keep practicing. Learn both versions, and play  or listen  often.
stay well.

The origins of that Gliss.

December 16, 2013

One supposes that everyone who plays the clarinet, as well as many music lovers, know the glissando that begins the Rhapsody in Blue, Gershwin’s 1924 Masterpiece. I may receive more letters and questions concerning that gliss than many other clarinet issues. (elsewhere within these pages there is a link to the actual first recording by the Paul Whiteman Band . You can hear it right now, if you wish.) There are several different stories concerning those first performances. First, and probably foremost, is that it was never written as a glissando, simply (in the original score, by Ferde Grofe, who was the composer of the Grand Canyon Suite and many other works , which incidentally , also features the clarinet), it was written as a trill followed by 17 notes which culminate in the high C. In yet another entry, I call it the longest agogic accent ever written, and, indeed, it may be. The first part of a story is that the clarinetist who played the first performance was Ross Gorman, a member of the Whiteman band. Part A of the story is that Mr. Gorman had had a libation or two prior and made a joke of the scale, turning it into a glissando with the several following descending notes into a laugh-like joke. It was not written into the part. Never. Currently, it is performed in many different ways, but the correct way, that is to say,the way it is on the original recording, is an actual glissando fromthe D below the staff, all the way to the C. There is only one current recording which has it in this manner, for as you know, it is difficult to make a glissando cross the so-called “break ” in the clarinet. That recording is with the Boston Pops Orchestra, conducted by Arthur Fiedler, the clarinetist being named as Pasquale Cardillo, who was second clarinet in the Boston Symphony and principal in the Pops. It is a beautiful actual glissando, and was made on a Selmer (probably Centered Tone Clarinet), played by all members of the synphony and the Pops at the time. (of course, with the replacement of Gino Cioffi by Harold Wright, the clarinet was changed , along with the player, perhaps the most musical clarinetist then alive).

to be continued

Starving Music, by cutting Music Education

September 29, 2013

Starving Music by Cutting Music Education.
For the past several years symphony Orchestras in North American have been disappearing or diminishing in size or in some unusual cases, actually going bankrupt, which is my understanding of the Philadelphia Orchestra. To me, this is the strangest thing, for I grew up listening to this orchestra’s many recordings, getting to know each of the woodwinds by name. We all had our opinions, but knew only the hearsay spoken by young students to one another. We could identify their sounds easily, their style, knew their instruments, and could probably pick out who was playing what part in a particular recorded work. But, I have never been to Philadelphia, never heard the orchestra in person,except once when they came to play in Symphony Hall in Boston. That was particularly memorable because the second clarinetist(Serpentini) developed food poisoning. The work for the evening was Ein Heldenleben. by Richard Strauss. A dear friend, the late Phil Viscuglia was called at the last minute to play the solo second part and sight read it flawlessly.

To learn that the Philadelphia Orchestra has filed for bankruptcy is unimaginable. But, it is only the mere tip of the iceberg. The diminution of orchestras, salaries, and season seems epidemic throughout North America. Musicians discuss this endlessly, usually accompanied by a wringing of hands, and a discussion as to what is happening to create tis collapsing of more than an entire industry, an actual end of classical music. It is very true, actually happening, and has been a case of self mutilation, for, are we creating our own ending?
There are many responses to the question. Due to factors inside and out of our industry, we have stopped feeding classical music. In the US and in Canada, so-called Classical Music has been an acquired discipline.
As a young high school student, we had chamber music concerts several times a year during classes. Yes, we called it Gas Chamber Music, but, at the very least we were given time in the auditorium to actually see and hear music. There was usually an explanation by one of the musicians, and then, we would hear the music. Personally, I remember a great event: The head of Music in the town of Brookline, Mass, was named Luther Burbank, (believe it or not.)(The other Luther Burbank, was a famous botanist).
Back to Mr. Burbank,. head of music in Brookline. He came in to the auditorium one day. There was long black and shiny piano on the stage. I had never seen a piano that large. He sat down and played the most beautiful thng I had ever heard. He played Clair de Lune,by Claude Debussy. It was my first time, and I still remember getting dizzy as he played. In retrospect, it seemed like a beautiful drug, and I just closed my eyes and was swept away.In our school, our city was constantly being fed classical music on a regular basis. Not just those afflicted with its love, but those halls were filled with young students. It was well known that this kind of music was not liked by all, but , it was considered as being something very good. An enrichment.
To begin with, the above is no longer the case. And, because of increased costs, music has been the first to go, replaced by any number of other less costly “enrichments”. Fewer students hearing good music means fewer parents attending concerts. Diminishing attendance means less money coming in and less of an incentive for the yearly donations that help keep the symphonic industry alive and well.As costs have risen, budgets are cut as well, and because of less interest in music, it became ideal to cut music.And it was and is.
Adding to fewer students attending concerts,one of the most important factors in a consideration of the diminishing orchestra, is the competition between recorded and live music. The recording industry has improved exponentially. In the beginning there was one recording of each Beethoven symphony and many other works of Classical Music. Then came stereophonic sound, then the long playing record and then tape and the arrival of digital recording, These superb recordings and the technology that produced them, meant for a severe and increasing competition between live and recorded music. Why buy an expensive concert ticket to hear a program of Richard Strauss and Stravinsky when you can purchase a beautiful recording of the same music. And the recording themselves sound so much better on that wonderful setup for which you have paid a fortune. And it sounds better in your own living room than it does in the Hall. The reason for this is that the recording emphasizes the major parts of the work and that clarinet solo sound so much purer and present in your riving room. No driving and no parking either. In the days past, the only way you could get a season ticket for the Boston Symphony was , to inherit one/the concerts were completely sold out.
During a professional recording of an orchestra, a great deal of mixing , both electronically and physically is achieved through the manipulation of the various electronic controls and the actual separation of the players. In a typical Boston Symphony recording, the audience seats are removed and the players are widely separated in pairs of like instruments and in sections. Each of the various small groupings has one or several microphones. This is precisely the reason that the clarinet solo on a particular recording is so much more vibrant and even present than when heard in the hall itself. One may ask oneself, “why is the clarinet , (or whatever instrument “, so much more present on the recording than in the concert hall? It is the recording and the various methods as mentioned above. This is competition with oneself. The performance competes with the recorded session.
If one is presented with a choice or a recoding or a performance , this choice diminishes the audience, certainly proven by the disappointing statistics in the numbers of those buying concert tickets/ Of course, the cutting of music classes in the K through 12 grades is pure starvation for Classical or any kind of Art Music. Continuing in the saga of the practice of performance, one must consider the practice of sampling, in which musicians record their instrumental sounds for a fee. These samples are then juxtaposed by synthesizer and any sound produced by any instrument can be reproduced easily. It is virtually the same as the competition presented by recordings, but even more pronounced. If I permit recorded samples of my playing, that sound can be reproduced rather easily on a keyboard of a “synth” as they are called.
We are subjected to examples of this competition with ourselves on a daily , almost continuous basis. Sometimes it is difficult to ascertain what one is listening to, a player or a synthesizer.
The Concertmaster of a major symphony actually could not understand how a player could play pizzicato as fast as he heard it on a recording, until he was told that it was , in fact , a” synth”.
I played the Bavicchi Clarinet Concerto with a regional symphony Orchestra near Chicago. Included with the Concerto was the Overture to Donna Diana, first on the program. Just about everyone in he orchestra called that work the “parking Lot Overture”. Certainly that Overture which we all recognize as the theme music for the very popular “Sargent Preston”. by Emil Nickolaus Von Reznicek, composed in 1894. It is somehow hurtful to think of that piece, or the show or VON Reznicek as the “Parking Lot Overture”. But, it is commentary on this world, Classical Music and the state of the art.
Does one need any further proof as to why concert audiences, symphony orchestras are smaller and smaller and are disappearing? It is above. It is here. Can it be fixed? It has been most of my life, the lives of countless others who play, and (formerly) millions of avid anxious excited listeners. It is and has never been a case of what is good and what is less good  in the composition. If our children cannot hear and be taught music, the cutting of Music Education is the source of its ending.


Jack Maheu, passed away August 27,2013

August 30, 2013

For all clarinetists and lovers of Dixieland: I received this today from Barbara Z Banks, former sister-in-law of Jack Maheu .


Jack Maheu, whose career as a top jazz clarinetist spanned over 50 years and included many appearances in upstate New York, died on August 27, 2013 in Ithaca. N. Y. at 83. He had suffered a severe stroke years before and was a resident at a nursing home in Ithaca.
Knowledgeable critics considered Maheu one of the finest jazz clarinetists. In 1951, he became a founding member, with fellow student musicians from the Syracuse marching band, of the eventually well-known Dixieland group, the Salt City Five.(later Six). They won the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts on tv. and appeared on Godfrey and Friends and his radio programs. As a result, the band was later booked for a long term engagement at Child’s Paramount in Times Square where it had the opportunity to share the stage as the house band with some of the legends in jazz on Sunday afternoons.
Born in Troy, N.Y., he spent his formative years in Plattsburgh, NY. After graduation from high school, he studied commercial art for two years at the Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, NY, then, on the advice of a musician friend from Syracuse, studied music for two years, majoring in clarinet at Syracuse University.
` During the early ’50s, two albums were recorded for Jubilee Records. In 1957, Maheu left the band and joined the Dukes of Dixieland where he recorded and helped arrange eight of their albums. He left the Dukes in 1959 to form his own band at the Preview Lounge in Chicago and played opposite the George Brunis band. He then toured with Muggsy Spanier for about a year and a half and recorded with Bob Scobey, Jimmy McPartland, Art Hodes, George Brunis, Pee Wee Russell, Vic Dickenson, George Wettling, and Bud Freeman. In 1961, he re-formed the Salt City Six as co-leader with Will Alger. Wild Bill Davison joined this group for a one-year tour in 1962.
Beginning in 1979, Maheu joined the house band at Eddie Condon’s Jazz club in New York, and recorded Condon’s Hot Lunch album with Pee Wee Erwin in 1980. After the club closed in 1985, he stayed in New York to work and record with Grosz, Dick Wellstood, Mark Shane, and Howard Alden and played at the Red Blazer.
Maheu moved to Marco Island, Florida in 1988 to help form the Paradise Jazz Band, with which he toured and recorded. In 1989, they played an impromptu jam session for the newly liberated East Germans coming through the demolished Berlin Wall. In 1990, Maheu moved to New Orleans and, using his architectural knowledge from Pratt, designed his own house. He toured for six months with Al Hirt and played engagements at the Fairmont Hotel plus various Bourbon Street clubs and Mississippi riverboats. He formed the Fire In The Pet Shop Callithumpian Jazz Band, which won First Place three years in a row in the New Orleans French Quarter Jazz Festival Battle of the Bands.
In New Orleans, Maheu became one of the most sought-after musicians in town. At Fritzel’s Jazz Pub on Bourbon St., he was known as “The General” by many of the City’s best players who sat in and younger clarinet players who listened and learned. Eddie Edwards, head of the Louis Armstrong Foundation told the Times-Picayune (4/23/94), “Maheu is the best clarinet player in New Orleans. He’s a real pro. When Jack talks, other musicians listen. His presence commands the respect of other musicians.”
Jack remained active in jazz in New Orleans until 2006 when a stroke forced his retirement. During his career, Maheu was featured on over a dozen national TV shows and over twenty record albums. His last recording was My Inspiration with the Jack Maheu Quartet (2004) on the Jazzology label.
Richard Sudhalter, noted jazz critic and Grammy winner for record liner notes, described Maheu as, “the master of a totally expansive, melodic way or playing that acknowledges its debt to admired figures of the past – Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Pee Wee Russell – but which speaks forcefully in its own accents and eloquent means of expression.”
As for playing the clarinet, Maheu told The Mississippi Rag (05/95), ” It is so difficult to play it well. You have to put a lot of years into it. A lot of guys can pick up a saxophone, a guitar…and in a couple of weeks they can play a job. Clarinet players have become the orphans in the music business – except for New Orleans.
“It’s the only town I’ve been in where the clarinet players get first calls for the good jobs. In the same article, Maheu said, “To me, there are only two kinds of jazz – good and bad, whether it’s a modern group or a Dixieland group. In Dixieland especially, the ensemble sound is absolutely one of the greatest things in music. Leonard Bernstein was quoted in print saying, “the most exciting sound in music is a good Dixieland band at full tilt”
Irving Berlin’s 1922 ‘Some Sunny Day” was Maheu’s favorite song. “I like the words,” he once said: “Some sunny day, with a smile on my face, I’ll go back to that place far away..”
He is survived by four children; Joy Maheu, Lisa Hawthorne, Michael Maheu and John Maheu; two sisters: Patti Mooney and Merilee Trudel;
three brothers: Robert, Bill and Jim Hargraves and three grandchildren:
Jenessa and Devon Maheu and Olivia Hawthorne. He had been previously married to Sharon Gravelet of New Orleans. A private ceremony is planned.

Thank you, Ms. Banks. We are all sorry for your and our  loss

Which sounds better?

January 27, 2013

The computer brings one much closer to the world, sometimes alarmingly so. And with it is the limitless opportunties offered by Youtube, the great music making current and past history of performances available a ones fingertips, or eyes and ears (with decent speakers). We have been listening to a lot of the Chinese pianist, Lang Lang, who is possessed of formidable technic, some 40 concertos in his mind, and a quite beautiful understanding and love for both the phrase, and the audience.

But, I am also acutely aware of all of the many clarinetists, both out there on youtube and within the orchestras of the world, and what it is that they are playing.

I have listened to several Tchaikovsky Concerti, with Lang Lang and the better world orchestras and, while listening the other day, and of course, watching. I saw the Philharmonic playing the Tchaikovsky with Lang Lang, and watched the big clarinet solo in the first movement. Whomever it was who as playing, he was having a great time, moving back and forth, and playing the solo, just a little out of tune, and rather strained sounding. But, he was enjoying himself.As I looked at his clarinet, I saw this strange colored barrel in the middle of his clarinet. It was difficult to figure out why, given the somewhat strange quality I heard and saw.

And again, I thought of The Emporers New Clothes, the fairy tale quoted in my piece on the search for the perfect mouthpiece. Of course, I know of where this fad comes, its history and the incredible growth of the fad. It is very similar to other fads, such as the one wherein you could have someones put your clarinet in an oven, take it out, never put it together again , and have a better more cohesive sound. They did it with flutes ,as well as other instruments as well. The fad faded.

But this one is spreading somewhat and I have no clue as to the why and wherefore of strangely stained wood used for different pats of the clarinet, either the barrel or the bell. These woods ae always something different, cocobolo with its euphemistic musical sounding name , coming to mind.And, for what they are, they are really costly, and they would have to be. They are money makers. Big ones. I had a student ,years ago,who came to a lesson with one i her case. It was not on her clarinet. I asked and she told me its name, and that she had been given to her at a Clarinet Convention. She said it would have cost 200 if shehad purchased it. She did not play her lesson with that barrel, and she had never played it for herself. It had been a gift at a gathering of clarinet students, professionals and the myriads of salesmen and gimmicks they sell, or give away, at first. With advertising ,giving the items to well known players, having the players make an ad with the gimmick on their clarinet, they generate interest, and with interest, comes sales. Give me a break! Please, and give my students a break, please. But we and they are born every minutes, as PT Barnum once said.

What is even more bizarre is the maker of these parts, on another Youtube, demonstrating in about five minutes, how to change the sound of the clarinetist by simply and quickly drilling something wider. That, is laughable, to an extreme, It becomes both The Emporers New Clothes, and Beauty is in the eye or the ear of the beholder, at the same time. It is really quite simple, similar to the famous “blindfold test’, anther completely erroneous procedure in which someone demonstrates different clarinets, or mouthpieces or reeds, in front pf a group from behind a screen. The differences are, whatever they may be, discernible to those listening. Or to some of them, or to none of them. Or.”let me see the hands of those who think that reed or clarinet or barrel or bell, was different”? “And, it what way? Too dark, too light, and dark and light is totally and completely in the eye and the ear of the listener.

Of course, and without a doubt, we are talking bout gigantic sales pitches, for they all are attached to things which make money, and big money, at that.

We used to have arguments many years ago about soloists, Heifetz or Stern, or orchestras, the Philadelphia or the Boston, or the Cleveland, or Szell or Rinier, or Halls, Boston Symphony Hall, Severance Hall in Cleveland, or the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, and which orchestra sounded better and why? My answers were always the same, in order to make a comparison, one has to hear the soloist, the orchestra, the hall or whatever one is comparing, simultaneously, which is an impossibility.

That is where the great resolution of all of the above problems, the contests, the soloists, the clarinetists, the halls, the orchestras, the interpretations, and and all the rest of it: that resolution being, “it is a matter of opinion”

If the colors of the different woods being used were all colored as the rest of the clarinet, that is to say, BLACK, would there be a difference? And could you sell that difference? In both cases, I think not.

We must remember always to poractice, to make perfect, the music, which is most important.

stay well.


A fad is any form of behavior that develops among a large population and is collectively followed with enthusiasm for some period, generally as a result of the behavior’s being perceived as novel in some way. A fad is said to “catch on” when the number of people adopting it begins to increase rapidly. The behavior will normally fade quickly once the perception of novelty is gone.

The specific nature of the behavior associated with a fad can be of any type including language usage, apparel, financial investment,advertising, and even food. Apart from general novelty, fads may be driven by mass media programming, emotional excitement, peer pressure, or the desire of ‘being hip’.

The Ultimate Fiscal Cliff: Music

January 3, 2013

The term fiscal-cliff has gone completely viral and is now a catch phrase, pertaining mainly, to the totally dysfunctional and just plain mean US Congress, or more defintively, the US House of Representatives, the GOP lead group which seems to mirror the very disintegration of the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln. We know all we don’t know about the precipice, but as musicians, we have lived on that promontory for much of our lives.

We h=ear and read about the demise of the Symphony orchestra in the US, at the very least, most of them. When the Philadelphia Orchestra is in crisis, that is big trouble. And many others as well I started to write an article which would list the failing symphony orchestras, a profession for which I was trained and worked in and out of, for my life. But, upon consulting the internet, I was confronted at first by an article in ,none other, than Forbes Magazine, which stated that the Symphony orchestra can only be saved by discontinuing or diminishing their most important product,concerts, because concerts cost the symphony orchestra most of their budget. If Forbes for real? That would be analagous to removing your heart because you have chest pains. Please. Diminishing or cutting concerts is like suicide for symphonic music in this country and in Canada, as well.

It is not difficult to trace the difficulty within the organizations of symphonic music within North America. There is simply not enough of an audience that wants to hear symphonic music enough to pay for it. The movies, Sports of any kind, Rock Concerts, any Pop concert, affords the possibility of getting together with friends, getting out of the house, getting high, and a kind of euphoria which is not unpleasant, and of course, it puts off practicing. As a result, there is much more interest and enjoyment to be experienced by things that you know, or that you think you know. And ,if the rest of your friends go, why shouldn’t you?

But, within our school districts , music is not a favorite subject, nor is listening to this increasingly strange sounding classical music, of which I and many of the readers have spent a lifetime learning. I started playing in high school and was studying the Bonade Book of Orchestral Studies for Clarinet in my second year. I think I still know he whole book, every single page,even though my fingers have forgotten as has my mouth, but that is a whole other article. Of course, the Boston Symphony Orchestra was our model, the place where we all wanted to either go, for concerts or to achieve, as a lifetime position. We knew all of the musicians, and called them by their first name (but never to their face). “Oh, I study with Gino”, or “I study with Jimmie”, or with “Roger” and all of the others. I used to run up the stairs of Symphony HAll to get the best seats for the POPS and I would actually drop a handful of pennies around the bottom of the second floor of steps, to deter some of the other runners, so anxious to be there for a good seat, to listen to the music and to watch the teachers. I cannot think of any more stimulating event than a symphonic concert. It was the best thing about everything I knew. And there were others just like me.

But, by and large, that is completely gone ,disappeared from the places a teenager wants to go. Nobody knows or cares about the Classical and Romantic repertoire which make up the body of professional symphonic music, It is not taught anymore within the Public Schools, or greatly diminished. The piano, the greatest of instruments was the pride of every home which could afford one, and they were very easy to come by. All levels, all tunings, and all that incredible repertoire by Brahms and Beethoven and Schubert. The piano has disappeared and been replaced by the guitar, which has a distinctly different audience, repertoire , cost and general interest.

The interest of art music has been destroyed or diminished by lack of interest and of course, money, for the programs. Those people used to comprise the great body of the symphonic audience. Who doesn’t remember the New York Philharmonic Concerts for Children and Leonard Bernstein, played in Carnegie Hall, attended by oceans of young people , filmed and spread throughout school systems the world over? This was a time to be stimulated by the beauty of symphonic art music, repertoire and concerts for the Piano and other solo instruments, the emergence of the long playing record, then even more availability through the development of editing, the compact disc and digital reproduction.

Where does Forbes Magazine expect the audiences to come from, if not from the educational system.

In high school, we learned about the tape recorder which became more easily available at affordable prices. One time my friend Dick Greenfield and I went over to Corleys house. Corley was our inspiring Band Director. We played an Entire band arrangement by recording each part over the other, And to our ears, it didn’t sound bad. It was doable. In actuaity, I have almost every concert I ever played recorded and on tape ,transferred to disc. That is a lot of clarinet playing. Some of it is even good.Because of my high school adventures, and because many musicians learn from their own recordings,(the cruelest of teachers) But, back to our subject. What has happened to our audience?

As musicians got the diminishing symphonic positions, they themselves, proliferated. Simply everyone played and loved their flute, their oboe, their clarinet, and pleasure lead to desire to be able to make music, this great pleasure, one lifes work. (NOT). First , the seasons were enlarged ,so as to support the large audiene and of course, the musicans. We all wanted full-time work, a family demanded that. So, we taught, and taught and taught, and now the students are drying up, or going into recording and yes, editing , or popular music, which has a gigantic live audience. And so ,music in the schools is virtually moribund, dead, or dying.

love, sherman

John A Bavicchi, composer of many works for clarinet, died on December 9, 2012

December 22, 2012

Bavicchi died in bed on December 9, 2012. The obit says that he died peacefully after three or four months of deterioration. He was 90 years old and he surprised many people by leaving us.He had said in the last few years that “death was unacceptable” As some readers of this and other sites are aware, he was a composer of many works for the clarinet, among which are several Sonatas for Clarinet, a several solo clarinet works, a Quintet for woodwinds, composed for The Milwaukee Symphony Woodwind Quintet, which we premiered sometime during the 60s, duets for flute and clarinet, trios for clarinet, viola, clarinet and cello, and many others. They are of considerable interest and difficulty. I have recorded his Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet. the First Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, the Canto #1 for clarinet alone. They are all on The Concordia Commissions. They are still available in some collections. interest to anyone who plays the clarinet and/or who performs contemporary works. He wrote symphonic works for Concert Band, all of which were written for the MIT Concert Band, John D. Corley, director. They toured for 35 years ,probably performing in most universities and many schools nationwide, and several here in Canada, in Montreal. That Band played mostly contemporary works of great difficulty, many of them composed by Mr. Bavicchi for Corley and the MIT Band. In 1989, I toured as soloist with them, performing his clarinet Concerto, dedicated to me. We flew to Florida and played the first performance of that Concerto at Astronaught High School, which was located in Titusville ,Florida. That was a cold February, there was a coating of ice on all the orange groves as they had been sprayed with water to hopefully prevent ruination of the crop. On the way to the city, there were a line of cars along the side of the highway, a two lane highway on the way to Titusville, which is near the Kennedy Space Center. Everyone was out of their cars looking up at the sky, where there was a great amount of white smoke . The shuttle with 8 astronaughts, had just blown up.All were instantly lost. It was a shock for us, and for seemingly the whole world. After a while ,we continued on our way to Titusville, and I guess there was a decision to be made whether or not to perform the premiers of the Concerto for Clarinet and Concert Band, and indeed the entire concert. There was rubble all over the roof of the motel at which the band was housed for that night. Corley made the decision to perform the concert. It was attended by a large, largely silent audience, and I think it went well, though it was a bizarre evening to be sure. We played the entire tour in Florida and it was a mixed bag, as they say. Playing music has been my occupation, and my love, but this was a terribly shocking situation. As some may remember, there was a woman astronaught, who happened to have been an accomplished amateur pianist. The eight deaths and the explosion was felt by the entire world, similar to the Kennedy Assassination. I remember thinking that many people were dying throughout the workd from starvation without so much as a murmur by most. Why was there such a clamor over the explosion of the Shuttle on that February Day?

Actually, I no longer remember some of the comments made by members of the audience, many of whom worked in that industry. I doubt if Astronught High School still exists,(it does, and has about 1200 students)

I played Bavicchis music for about 50 years at least, the last time being a concert at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2006. I premiered two works, one by Thomas McGah, a member of the Faculty, for Clarinet and piano. It had some kind of title with Italien musical expressions , and I lterally slaughtered the performance. It may have been passable, but I remember it as an abject failure. I never ever make a foreign noise on a concert and I did in thie performance, which means to me abject failure. If you are a player, do you feel those failure feelings, ever? The other work was the last work John ever wrote for me, called Six for Two, six short pieces of medium difficulty. Except for one note, which I swore he wrote knowing I would remember forever, and that was a pianissimo high A, with not one note of preparation. Just there, to be played softly. It went, but I was not happy with the quality, and I hated John for writing that A. I should have played it down two octaves. It would have been the same contrasting color and played without worry. Having performed in so many hundreds of concerts or contemporary music, one would think it didn’t matter, but it did to me. And of course, the kindly Bavicchi mentioned that the first three movements were played to perfection. How come that comment stung and has stayed with me to this very day?

I met John Bavicchi in the Cafeteris of the New England Conservatory of Music in 1957, upon being discharged from the US Army, and was attending NEC. I had heard that this person was a composer and I approached him . We had a coffee and I asked if I could buy some of his music for clarinet? He was amazed, truly amazed. He said, you want to buy my music? I thought one paid when one bought or received a piece of music. I imagine that was the thing that interested him, but he was always intensely interested in those who would perform his music.

John Bavicchi wrote the most difficult music for the clarinet as existed at the time. It was not like the Donald Martino “Set for Clarinet”, then considered the most difficult work for clarinet. It was more difficult, always totally driving fast and with unmusical leaps and awkward countertpoint, and always always dissonant.At that time, it was mostly in manuscript, Johns own, quite legible as he frequently worked as a copyist for many composers. He worked fast and was very accurate. Of course, now manuscript is seldom seen as there are all kinds of programs which will print out the parts beautifully; desktop publishing, it was first called, and programs like “Finale” were truly incrdible back in the 60s and 70s, and are still. There are even some apps which will write the music for you. Could that be correct?I do think so,but I cannot attest to the quality.

I am getting to the point where new musc is not as interesting as it once was. I still love the clarinet, and I shall always. It has been my life .

stay well.
RIP John A Bavicchi.

The duets for flute and clarinet are especially accessible , so too is the Second Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano. His OPus 1 is a work for Clarinet Trombone and piano.Perhaps you may wish to avoid that one.