Before and Around 1917


This Chapter tackles some historical background to the development of clarinet music in Russia before 1917 and shortly after the Revolution. The topic includes how the clarinet came to and settled in Russia, the impact of touring virtuosi, and the first famous Russian clarinet work by Mikhail Glinka. Also, clarinet compositions from the 19th century and the founding of the conservatories and changes in music education are addressed. The chapter concludes with a short look at tendencies in early-20th-century clarinet music, including avant-garde movements.

In the middle of the 18th century, the clarinet was introduced in Russia through 
German, Czech and Italian virtuoso players invited by the Tsarist court. The clarinet was established in Russia slowly and in a specific way, which had impact on the distinct development of the clarinet repertoire from the Soviet Union. The circumstances for developing its own Russian clarinet music were not self-evident due to the initial lack of skilled instrumentalists, instrumental concert tradition, composing schools, music education, instrument makers or craftsmen at that time. The clarinet remained an "imported" instrument, performed mainly by foreigners, for over a century in Russia.