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Jenny Maclay Clarinet

  • Clarinet cryptograms: Are there hidden messages in our repertoire?
    by jennyclarinet on 22 October 2020 at 15:03

    Last week, I began exploring the history of musical espionage (as one does) and found myself delving into the world of musical cryptography. Musical cryptography is using the musical alphabet, notation, solfège, and other elements to encrypt messages into music. Bach, Shostakovich, and many other composers throughout history have used musical cryptography to spell their names. Bach used B-flat-A-C-B natural (the German H) to spell his name, and Shostakovich used D-E-flat-C-B natural to spell DSCH (again, using German H) for Dmitri Schostakowitsch. However, some composers used musical cryptography to notate the names of their beloved or short messages and quotations to share with those who were able to crack the musical code. Michael Haydn (sibling to his more famous older brother Franz Joseph) even proposed a musical cipher system, and Irish composer John Field even spelled out B-E-E-F and C-A-B-B-A-G-E in his music. After some more research, I discovered that Brahms, Schumann, Debussy, Poulenc, and some other beloved composers of clarinet repertoire have used musical cryptograms, and the score-sleuthing properly began. Johannes Brahms Let’s begin with Brahms. You might recall that Brahms was in love with Clara Schumann, but you might not know that he was also in love with soprano Agathe von Siebold. After breaking his engagement with Agathe, Brahms immortalized her by including his A-G-A-H-E theme in his String Sextet No. 2 in G major. Here are some other cryptograms Brahms used, according to this article: “Though he remained unmarried, Brahms retained his penchant for musical codes, referring to Adele Strauss by the notes A–Eb (A.S.) and to Gisela von Arnim, a writer known for her fairy tales, with the notes G#–E–A (Gis-e-la) in his letters.” He also could have used B-D (re)-A-B natural-E natural (mi)-E-flat (German S) to spell his own name. Robert Schumann Here are a few ciphers used by Schumann: A-S-C-H (S=E-flat and A=A-flat in the German musical system) – represents Asch, Germany, which was the hometown of Schumann’s former fiancée Ernestine von Fricken S-C-H-A – a variation of Schumann’s name G-A-D-E and A-B-E-G-G – friends of Schumann FA-E – frei aber einsam (free but lonely) E-F – Florestan and Eusebius, two characters or personalities of Schumann’s (Coincidentally, these are the very first two notes in the piano part to our beloved Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73!) According to this article, “His other overt music–ciphers used in extant letters or manuscripts include A–C–H, A­D–E, B–E–D–A (a pet name for his wife Clara Schumann, née Wieck), B–E–S­E–D–H (the nearest equivalent to the name of a friend, Bezeth), E–H–E (“marriage”) and, no doubt the longest example on record, (L)–A–S–S D–A–S F–A–D–E, F–A–S­S D–A–S A–E–C–H–D(T)–E, or “leave what is trite, hold fast to the right”, in a musical rebus.” Calling all clarinet cryptologists! The study of musical cryptography is vast, as is the clarinet’s body of repertoire. If you’d like to do some of your own research, here are some pieces which might contains musical ciphers. Can you crack these musical codes to find any secret messages? Brahms Clarinet Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 120, No. 1 Brahms Clarinet Sonata No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 120, No. 2 Schumann Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73 Poulenc Clarinet Sonata Debussy Première rhapsodie Messiaen Quatuor pour la fin du temps Sources & further reading: Spies and Music B-A-C-H, Glazunov’s Dog, And Brahms’ Lost Loves — A Look At Music Cryptography Music using cryptographic and related concepts Did Schumann use ciphers? Elgar’s Rehearsal 55 Clarinet Solo Cipher The post Clarinet cryptograms: Are there hidden messages in our repertoire? appeared first on Jenny Maclay.

  • This former school is haunted by the ghost of a clarinetist
    by jennyclarinet on 20 October 2020 at 21:17

    The quaintly named Valentine, Nebraska is a small town near the South Dakota border with a population of only a few thousand people. It holds the honors of housing Centennial Hall, Nebraska’s oldest standing school, built in 1897. According to local legend, a student at the school was murdered in Centennial Hall in 1944. The young unnamed girl was a clarinetist, and her friend poisoned her clarinet reed. When the girl put the clarinet in her mouth to play, she died from the poisonous reed. Before the school was converted into a museum, teachers would report seeing a ghostly apparition and feeling a feeling of dread or unease. Now, you can still hear the sound of music being played in the Music Hall (although the instruments were removed long ago), and rocking chairs will mysteriously rock without anyone around. The former school was converted into a museum which now allows visitors to admire the building’s architecture and collection of historical objects displayed in the museum’s twelve thematic rooms. Are you brave enough to walk through the corridors of Centennial Hall in search of this clarinetist ghost? The post This former school is haunted by the ghost of a clarinetist appeared first on Jenny Maclay.

  • Horror films which feature the clarinet
    by jennyclarinet on 12 October 2020 at 21:01

    If this is your first Jenny Clarinet Halloween, you’re in for a real (trick or) treat! If there’s one thing I love nearly as much as clarinet, it’s Halloween. During October each year, I share the spooky side of the clarinet world, from unusual history, haunted pieces, and even mysteries of the clarinet. First up, you can’t properly celebrate Halloween with some scary movies! Get ready for some horror films with a heavy dose of clarinet! (By the way, I’m always looking for new horror films to watch, so if you know of any clarinet-infused scary movies you’d like me to add to this list, please let me know!) Grab some candy corn, pour some cider, and get ready for a spooktacular Jenny Clarinet Halloween movie lineup: Movies which feature clarinet in the plot Sleepless (Non ho sonno in Italian, 2001) – In this Dario Argento film, a victim is stabbed to death with a clarinet. Death by clarinet certainly sounds like a frightening event, and I believe this scene is just in the uncut version. Haunter (2013). The star of this film is a ghost in northern Ontario who is aware that she and her entire family are dead, and she’s stuck on an endless loop of the day she was murdered. There’s a scene where she practices Peter and the Wolf…but you’ll have to watch the movie to see what happens. Movies which feature clarinet in the soundtrack Frankenstein (1931) – American composer Bernard Kaun (1899-1980) includes many clarinet and bass clarinet features in this early horror film. The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) – Malcolm Williamson composed the music for this film, and it includes eight clarinet parts. According to this website, Williamson said in an interview: “ I had specific ideas about the sound that I wanted to create for the film, I planned to use clarinets which would start with piccolo clarinet to double bass clarinet there would be eight in total which would be supported or underlined by strings and percussion, but things did not go entirely to plan and I was asked to add flutes and also oboe which I did reluctantly, this resulted in the sound becoming more of a conventional woodwind sound which for me completely defeated the object and diluted the sound that I was attempting to create.” Hereditary (2018) – Composer Colin Stetson describes in an interview, “There is quite a bit of contrabass clarinet and bass clarinet and B-flat clarinet, for that matter. Clarinet was a huge player. There was a fair bit of my trusty alto bass saxophone strewn throughout. But, primarily, vocal basis and clarinets.” Honorable mention: The Twilight Zone episode “Living Doll” features extended bass clarinet solos, accompanied by harp and celeste, written by Bernard Herrmann. Horror films which feature the contra clarinet Sometimes, the soprano clarinet just doesn’t cut it to create the rumbling, suspenseful sounds necessary to frighten viewers! Interview with the Vampire (1994) – music by Elliot Goldenthal Shallow Ground (2004) – music by Steve London Hereditary (2018) – music by Colin Stetson (In this interview, Stetson describes his use of low clarinets: “So all of the heartbeat-esque things or the very grating, metallic sort of crunching percussion that can happen throughout in tension-building areas, those are all percussive sounds that come from the saxophones and the clarinets. So yes, the heartbeats are all coming straight out of the horn, and they’re tied to the rhythms that the horns are playing in those particular scenes. In one of the first major incitement scenes, there’s a contrabass clarinet piece that’s entirely built around it. There were probably 12 mics alone in that one track. There’s a number of other things orchestrating around it, but the core being the solo live-rendered clarinet piece. I was consciously avoiding conventional tropes in the genre, using the ubiquitous strings and synths to create all of the creepy sounds. All of the stuff that people hear in the score and think are strings, the vast majority of all of that is actually clarinets and all high woodwinds. So, lots of things that may sound very synth-y and all of that dirty low-end, that’s all coming from low woodwinds, contrabass clarinet, and bass clarinet. There’s a whole host of different modes of processing that happened, and then a lot of real unconventional playing of individual instruments.”) 1BR (2019) – music by Ronen Landa (score includes bass, contrabass, and B-flat clarinets) Clarinetist Paul Harvey also played contra clarinet on several horror films. Clarinet compositions written by horror film composers When they’re not busy writing suspenseful music to famous horror films, these composers have written solo and chamber works featuring the clarinet: Bernard Hermmann (1911-1975), most famous for composing music to The Twilight Zone and Psycho, wrote his Clarinet Quintet “Souvenirs de Voyage” in 1967. According to program notes from a performance at the Sydney Opera House, “The first movement takes as its inspiration A.E. Housman’s poem ‘On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble’, while the second evokes Ireland’s Aran Islands and the final pays tribute to Turner’s Venetian watercolours. The musical scenery Herrmann builds around each of these stimuli attest to his profound understanding of the intimate interplay between sound and sight.” Polish composer Wojciech Kilar (1932-2013), who wrote the score to Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), also wrote Training 68, for clarinet, trombone, cello and piano (1968). American composer and clarinetist Robert Drasnin (1927-2015) wrote the music to The Twilight Zone episode “The Hunt” (in addition to several other television scores). In addition to his TV music, you can hear him playing on his albums such as “Couch, Los Angeles” (Mouthpiece Records,) and “The Blue Dahlia” (Stardust Records). Japanese composer Tōru Takemitsu (1930-1996) wrote the music to over 90 films (including the horror film Kwaidan). He composed several pieces featuring clarinet, including Rain Spell, Fantasma/Cantos, Quatrain II, Waterways, and several others. Sources La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film by Mikel J. Coven, 2006 page 63 Film Music and Film Genre by Mark Brownrigg The post Horror films which feature the clarinet appeared first on Jenny Maclay.

  • Crypto-musicology books to read this Halloween
    by jennyclarinet on 6 October 2020 at 19:25

    It’s no secret that I enjoy exploring the dark and spooky corners of clarinet and music history, such as the bizarre deaths of historical clarinetists, final resting places of famous clarinetists, or the curse of the yellow clarinet. If you’re looking to discover more strange tales from music history (which I’ve officially dubbed crypto-musicology), here are a few of my favorite books to get you started: Beethoven’s Skull by Tim Rayborn. This book explores the “Dark, Strange, and Fascinating Tales from the World of Classical Music and Beyond.” These are the tales you probably never learned in music history! Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius by Colin Dickey. Fun fact: an inordinate amount of composers’ skulls have been stolen and misplaced throughout music history. Read this book to find out how and why this happens. Unfinished Symphonies: Voices from the Beyond by Rosemary Brown. When she was seven years old, Rosemary Brown, an English woman with no musical training, was visited by the ghost of Franz Liszt. Throughout her life, other composers such as Schubert, Debussy, Stravinsky, and many more communicated with her and used her as a vehicle to write new musical compositions from beyond the grave. This is an autobiographical account of her experiences with the spirits of dead composers. (She also might have held a clue as to the missing Mozart clarinet concerto manuscript!) The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. This novel is based on supposedly true events surrounding a real-life phantom in the famous Parisian opera house, the Palais Garnier. (By the way, there really is an underground lake at the Palais Garnier, but we have no definitive proof that this is where the Phantom hangs out when he’s not creating mischief.) Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage by Albert Glinsky. The theremin is largely considered to be the world’s first electronic instrument, and its inventor, Leon Theremin certainly led an interesting life. He was a Soviet scientist and passed along information to Russia while living in New York before his sudden disappearance in 1938. He was presumed dead for nearly thirty years, but was instead working with Soviet intelligence. This is a great book to learn more about this mysterious instrument and its enigmatic inventor. Shakespeare’s Ear by Tim Rayborn. Although this is centered around tales from the theater, there are many overlaps and stories musicians will find interesting. Lexicon of Musical Invective: Critical Assaults on Composers Since Beethoven’s Time by Nicolas Slonimsky. Perhaps nothing is more terrifying to musicians than a bad review. Slonimsky collects nearly two centuries’ worth of reviews and music critique sure to horrify (and amuse) any musician. If you’re looking for some less frightening books to read, here are some books every clarinetist should have on their shelves: part 1 and part 2. The post Crypto-musicology books to read this Halloween appeared first on Jenny Maclay.

  • The musical medium who holds a clue to the missing Mozart clarinet concerto manuscript
    by jennyclarinet on 1 October 2020 at 18:58

    One of clarinet history’s greatest mysteries is the whereabouts of the manuscript to Mozart’s beloved Concerto for Clarinet in A Major, K. 622, written in 1791 for Anton Stadler. We know that Mozart gave his fellow freemason friend Anton Stadler the manuscript of his new concerto on October 10, 1791 (only two days after he finished orchestrating the piece), along with 200 florins for “travel money” before Stadler embarked on what would become a five-year tour of Eastern Europe. (By the way, 200 florins might not sound like much, but it was the equivalent to a quarter of Mozart’s salary as a Viennese court composer.) Stadler began his tour with a concert in Prague at the National Theater on October 13, where it is assumed that he performed the Mozart concerto, but there is no evidence and Mozart was in Baden with his wife Constanza at the time. Less than two months later, Mozart died on December 5, likely without ever hearing a performance of his beautiful concerto. Stadler continued performing throughout Europe after Mozart’s death, and the only recorded performance we have of Mozart’s clarinet concerto is in Riga, Latvia on March 5, 1794. Mozart’s widow Constanza was told by Stadler’s friends that he had pawned a briefcase with instruments and music, but Stadler claimed that it was stolen (how convenient). Historians have been researching the possibilities ever since, and an unlikely source emerged in the 1970s – musical medium Rosemary Brown. Rosemary Brown (1916-2001) was an English woman who claimed to be visited by the ghosts of Liszt, Schubert, Debussy, Stravinsky, and several other dearly departed composers. She claimed that these ghosts began visiting her as a child, and they would dictate new works to her through various ways. Liszt was the first to visit her when she was seven, and Rosemary claimed that he often acted as an intermediary, speaking to other composers for her. Rosemary had no musical training or inclinations, and the resulting works she shared given by the musical spirits were studied by musicologists and psychologists. They received mixed reviews, and you can hear a conversation with her here to see what you think. You’re probably asking yourself what this has to do with the missing Mozart manuscript. Enter preeminent clarinet scholar Pamela Weston. Pamela Weston (1921-2009) wrote dozens of scholarly articles and several books on all aspects of clarinet history, including the case of Mozart and Stadler. According to her book Heroes and Heroines of Clarinettistry, Weston had the opportunity to meet Rosemary Brown in the 1970s when Brown gave a piano recital at Wigmore Hall in London featuring the new works of the spirit composers. David Cairns, the music critic of The Times, introduced Weston to Brown, and here is an excerpt of their conversation taken from Weston’s book: “Could you please ask Mozart where the manuscript of his Clarinet Concerto is?” “Liszt says he doesn’t know Mozart very well but he’s trying to make contact.” (long silence as Liszt supposedly speaks to Mozart) “Aha! Mozart has just told him that it’s in the basement of that Oboisten’s house in Vienna.” According to Weston, “Oboisten” was a composite noun used during Mozart’s time (especially in military music) which meant ‘wind player.’ Here comes the blow – after exploring Vienna, Weston determined that Stadler’s house had been built over and no longer remains. Here’s where things get interesting. Stadler wasn’t the only one who had access to Mozart’s concerto manuscript. Christian Friedrich Gottlieb Schwencke came from a musical family in Hamburg, and he strongly admired all of Mozart’s works. He purchased all of Mozart’s music after it was published, and he became the AMZ Hamburg correspondent in 1799. Between 1799 and 1805 (exact year unknown), Böhme of Hamburg published Grand Quintetto pour le Pianoforte, deux Violons, Viola & Violoncelle. Composé par W. A. Mozart. Arrangé d’après un Concert pour la Clarinette par C.F.G. Schwencke, indicating that Schwencke had access to the manuscript to arrange this edition of Mozart’s concerto. Two years after Schwencke’s death in 1822, a collection of musical items was auctioned. Item 424 read “Mozart Clarinet Concerto, score (handwritten.” According to an AMZ anonymous reviewer, he had the original score in front of him at this auction. So, was Rosemary Brown referring to Stadler or perhaps Schwencke when she said the manuscript was in that Oboisten’s house? We may never know, but perhaps one day, the mystery of the missing Mozart clarinet concerto manuscript will be solved! If you’re interested in learning more about Rosemary Brown, she wrote the following books about her experiences communicating with the musical spirits: Unfinished Symphonies: Voices from the Beyond Immortals at My Elbow Look Beyond Today She also worked with Keturi Musikverlag to publish the compositions communicated to her by the spirits. The post The musical medium who holds a clue to the missing Mozart clarinet concerto manuscript appeared first on Jenny Maclay.

  • ICA Warm-up Week – October 25-31, 2020
    by Jessica Harrie on 27 October 2020 at 01:45

    ICA Warm-up Week – October 25-31, 2020 The ICA is excited to announce Warm-Up Week, an entire week dedicated to sharing warm-up routines from aroundRead More → The post ICA Warm-up Week – October 25-31, 2020 appeared first on International Clarinet Association.

  • New York Counterpoint de Steve Reich: pensamientos de Richard Stoltzman
    by Jessica Harrie on 27 September 2020 at 01:23

    Originally published in The Clarinet 47/3 (June 2020). Printed copies of The Clarinet are available for ICA members. New York Counterpoint de Steve Reich: pensamientos de Richard Stoltzman por RichardRead More → The post New York Counterpoint de Steve Reich: pensamientos de Richard Stoltzman appeared first on International Clarinet Association.

  • Interview with Derek Bermel
    by Jessica Harrie on 27 September 2020 at 01:12

    Originally published in The Clarinet 47/4 (September 2020). Printed copies of The Clarinet are available for ICA members. Interview with Derek Bermel by Rachel Yoder Derek Bermel isRead More → The post Interview with Derek Bermel appeared first on International Clarinet Association.

  • Tribute to James “Jim” Pyne
    by Jenny Maclay on 22 September 2020 at 17:50

    The International Clarinet Association is saddened to hear of the passing of James “Jim” Pyne, Emeritus Professor of Clarinet at The Ohio State University andRead More → The post Tribute to James “Jim” Pyne appeared first on International Clarinet Association.

  • ClarinetFest 2021 Reno rollover process now complete!
    by Jenny Maclay on 18 September 2020 at 18:19

    From the ClarinetFest 2021 Artistic Leadership Team: Our Reno rollover process is now complete! The membership of the International Clarinet Association is well representedRead More → The post ClarinetFest 2021 Reno rollover process now complete! appeared first on International Clarinet Association.

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