Meri’s Musical Musings

Why I think serious Clarinetists should get a A clarinet if they can afford one (even if they don’t play in an orchestra)

Posted on: July 4, 2011

For a long time, I did not have an A clarinet.  With the growing number of orchestral substitute jobs I got a few years ago, my husband a few years ago bought me one for a birthday present. Although I don’t use it much in an orchestra setting, I am using it almost equally as my B flat clarinet in other situations.

Most often, the A clarinet is used in orchestral settings. Most orchestras I have played with often use the A clarinet slightly to somewhat more than the B flat instrument.

There are some chamber music pieces that call for clarinet in A. Brahm’s Trio and Quintets with clarinet, Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, Carl Nielsen’s Wind Quintet.

I have often played arrangements of piano and string music on the A clarinet, which would be in difficult keys on the B flat, especially those that are at fast or very fast tempos where pressing more keys than you need to slows you down.

I have even played instrumental parts that are part of some choir’s anthems and hymns that either would be challenging on the B flat clarinet (some of the hymns add more challenging variations on the last verse), or, because of the character of the anthem or hymn, make the A more appropriate with its darker tone colour.

And of course, some solo pieces call for it. Stravinsky’s Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo (two movements are preferred on the A clarinet), Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, and the Carl Nielsen Concerto.


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  • clariniano: Thanks for the additional information. It was actually Yelp that deleted my reviews, because of so-called bias. I too have seen the horrible technique
  • No Thanks: Former Teacher at the Ontario Conservatory of Music I took lessons at the Ontario Conservatory and when I left for private lessons from another tea
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