Compositions and education




Concerning Russian clarinet compositions, the above-mentioned Trio Pathetique by Glinka is without doubt the most famous work. There are, however, a few other compositions from the 19th century. Aleksandr Alyabyev (1787–1851) composed a Woodwind Quintet in c minor. The exact composition date is not known, and the manuscript remained unfinished.  B. Dobrokhotov completed the work, which was published in 1953 (Maistrenko 2017, 132). Anton Rubinstein (1829–1894) composed the Octet op. 9 for piano, strings and winds, which was published in 1849 and the Quintet op.55 in f major for piano and woodwind quartet (1855). Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908) experimented with playing various wind instruments, one of which was the clarinet. His Konzertstück (Clarinet Concerto) in e-flat major for clarinet (in B-flat) and wind orchestra from 1878 is close to the tradition of the clarinet as a military band instrument. In the same period Rimsky-Korsakov also composed a Quintet in b-flat major for woodwinds and the small duos Canzonetta and Tarantella for two clarinets (in B-flat and A). Sergey Taneyev (1856–1915) composed the beautiful and lyrical Canzonetta for clarinet and strings in 1883. In the same year, he also wrote Andante, a decimet for doubled woodwind quintet. Sergey Taneyev’s nephew, Aleksandr Taneyev (1850–1918), composed the Arabesque for clarinet and piano around 1880.  In 1885 Alexander Glazunov (1865–1936) wrote a series of Miniature Duos for clarinet and various second wind instruments. In the same year, Glazunov also composed small pieces for two clarinets: Adagio, Allegretto, Andante and Appassionato. The quintet Oriental Reverie Op. 14 No.2 for clarinet and string quartet is Glazunov´s own arrangement of the Two Pieces for Orchestra op.14 from 1886 (Maistrenko 2017, 139-140). The French composer Anton (Antoine) Simon (1850–1916), living in Moscow, composed a rather virtuoso work for that time, the Pièce Concertante (Clarinet Concerto) op. 31 for clarinet and orchestra around 1888.  Pièce Concertante is dedicated to Rozanov and was only published in 1954 (Maistrenko 2017). 


Clarinet education

When looking at the music education and development of clarinet playing in Russia, one can see that major changes emerged in the second half of the 19th century. Until the abolition of serfdom in 1861, the only possibility for serfs to learn to play a musical instrument was in serf orchestras or military bands (Shakhman 2003, 75). This situation changed, however,  and musical education in Russia became broadly accessible when Anton Rubinstein founded the conservatory of St Petersburg in 1862 and his brother Nikolay Rubinstein founded the Moscow conservatory in 1866. In the beginning, all clarinet professors were foreign: Ernesto Cavallini in St Petersburg (1862–1868), followed by the Germans Karl Niedmann (1886–1901) and Vasily (Wilhelm-Friedrich) Brekker (1901–1926). In Moscow, the first clarinet professor also were German: Voldemar (Wilhelm) Gut (1867–1872), Karl Zimmermann (1872–1891) and Joseph Friedrich (1891–1916) (Weston 2000, 58). Besides the two main conservatories, many music colleges (uchilishche) were founded all over the country from the 1870s on; first in Ukraine, then in southern and central Russia, and finally in Siberia (Maistrenko 2017, 175-195). Many of these music colleges were turned into conservatories at the beginning of the 20th century, aiming for the further professionalization of instrument playing and broader music education of the local population. Initially, the clarinet teachers were mainly German or Czech clarinetists and came from the from the local orchestras. 

In 1916, Sergey Rozanov (1870–1937) was appointed as first Russian clarinetist in the position of conservatory professor. This is commonly seen as the beginning of the Russian school of clarinet playing (Maistrenko 2017, 120). Gradually a new generation of Russian clarinetists grew, taking over positions in orchestras and in teaching. Remarkably, the influences of the German clarinet tradition remained very noticeable even later in the Soviet Union: German system clarinets were played in Russia until the late 1950s and far into the 1960s, whereas French (Boehm-) System clarinets became common elsewhere in Europe and the US by the early 20th century at the latest (see Chapter 6).[1] Furthermore, out of 453 biographies on clarinet and saxophone performers of all periods in Russia, 449 players are male and only four are female (Maistrenko 2017, 308-359). The clarinet has remained thus an outspoken “male” instrument for a long time. The number of female clarinetists in Russia remained marginal until far into the 20th century.

 [1] Germany, Austria and to some extent the Netherlands are keeping their specific instrument traditions to the present day and French system clarinets are used partly only.