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Thea Musgrave

Publisher: Novello & Co

Concerto for Clarinet (1968)
commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society in association with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Publisher
Chester Music Ltd
Category
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
1968
Duration
24 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
clarinet


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Programme Note
Thea Musgrave Concerto for Clarinet (1968)
The Clarinet Concerto was written in 1968 in response to a commission from the Royal Philharmonic Society (in association with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation). It was first performed in February 1969 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Colin Davis, with Gervase de Pyer as soloist at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

The Clarinet Concerto is one of a series of works where I have explored certain ‘dramatic-abstract’ ideas: that is, dramatic in presentation but abstract because there is no programme or ‘story’. In this work, the dramatic idea is basically a simple one and arises out of the original meaning of the word ‘concertare’ - that is, struggle or conflict in the sense of balancing unequal forces; solo versus tutti, or individual(s) versus crowd.

The solo clarinet, as well as having a virtuosic role, also here has another function in that it moves around the orchestra to play with various smaller ‘concertante’ groups. The groups in turn are set against the rest of the orchestra. At these moments the solo clarinet is usually independent of the conductor and leads the other members of the group.

Many notational problems had to be solved to be able to write down these ideas in a clear and practical way without losing general harmonic control.

The work is in one continuous movement and is a kind of concerto grosso; a recurring tutti section, easily recognizable with its fast rhythmic figurations, and then the various contrasting episodes sandwiched in between with a different concertino each time.


Thea Musgrave

  • Ensemble
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
    Soloist(s)
    Victoria Soames Samek, clarinet/bass clarinet
    Conductor
    Thea Musgrave
    Clarinet Classics:
  • Ensemble
    Scottish National Orchestra / London Symphony Orchestra
    Soloist(s)
    Gervase de Payer (clarinet); Barry Tuckwell (horn); Thea Musgrave (piano); Malcolm Williamson (piano)
    Conductor
    Alexander Gibson / Norman Del Mar / Thea Musgrave
    Lyrita:
Performances
Date
Title
  • 30 NOV 2015
    BBC Radio 3
    Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    Gervase de Peyer, clarinet; Alexander Gibson, conductor
  • 07 AUG 2013
  • 26 MAY 1998
    Composer of the Week
    BBC Radio 3
  • 17 MAR 1998
    BBC Radio 3
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
    Victoria Soames, clarinet; Thea Musgrave, conductor
  • 10 APR 1995
    Regensburg, Germany
    Philharmonisches Orchester Regensburg
    Hilary Griffiths, conductor
  • 26 MAY 1988
    BBC Studios
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
    Michael Collins, clarinet
  • 27 MAY 1987
    Royal College of Music, London
    Royal College of Music Sinfonia
    Paul Richards, clarinet; Christopher Adey, conductor
  • 04 SEP 1984
    BBC Proms
    Royal Albert Hall, London
    BBC Symphony Orchestra
    Michael Collins, clarinet; Thea Musgrave, conductor
  • 25 MAY 1979
    Pittsburgh, USA
    Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
    André Previn, conductor

    Other Dates:
    26,27 May - Pittsburgh, USA
  • 19 JAN 1979
    Utah, USA
    Utah Symphony Orchestra
    Christie Lundquist, clarinet; Sarah Caldwell, conductor
  • 01 FEB 1977
    Baltimore
    Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
    Stanley Drucker, clarinet; Sarah Caldwell, conductor
  • 10 NOV 1975
    Avery Fisher Hall, now named David Geffen Hall
    New York Philharmonic
    Stanley Drucker, clarinet; Sarah Caldwell, conductor
  • 16 JUL 1975
    BBC Radio 3
    City of London Symphony Orchestra
    Gervase de Peyer, clarinet; Norman Del Mar, conductor
  • 28 APR 1972
    BBC Radio 3
    Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    Gervase de Peyer, clarinet; Alexander Gibson, conductor
  • 19 JAN 1972
    Royal Festival Hall, London
    City of London Symphony Orchestra
    Gervase de Peyer, clarinet; André Previn, conductor
  • 31 AUG 1971
    Edinburgh Festival
    Edinburgh
    City of London Symphony Orchestra
    Gervase de Peyer, clarinet; André Previn, conductor
  • 09 AUG 1971
    Concerto for Clarinet Country Premiere
    Music Center, Los Angeles
    LA Philharmonic Orchestra
    Michele Zukovsky, clarinet; Gerhard Samuel, conductor
  • 29 OCT 1970
    Royal Festival Hall, London
    City of London Symphony Orchestra
    Gervase de Peyer, clarinet; André Previn, conductor
  • 22 SEP 1970
    Concerto for Clarinet Country Premiere
    Warsaw
    Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
    Jack Brymer, clarinet; Charles Groves, conductor
  • 20 JUN 1970
    Glasgow
    Royal Scottish Naitonal Orchestra
    Gervase de Peyer, clarinet; Alexander Gibson, conductor
  • 12 JUN 1970
    Royal Festival Hall, London
    Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
    Jack Brymer, clarinet; Charles Groves, conductor
  • 01 MAY 1970
    BBC
    Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
    Jack Brymer, clarinet; Charles Groves, conductor
  • 31 MAR 1970
    Liverpool
    Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
    Jack Brymer, clarinet; John Pritchard, conductor
  • 15 NOV 1969
    Robert Mayer Children's Concert
    Royal Festival Hall, London
    City of London Symphony Orchestra
    Gervase de Peyer, clarinet; Trevor Harvey, conductor
  • 31 MAR 1969
    BBC Music
    BBC Symphony Orchestra
    Gervase de Peyer, clarinet; Colin Davis, conductor
  • 04 MAR 1969
    Aberdeen
    Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    Gervase de Peyer, clarinet; Alexander Gibson, conductor

    Other Dates:
    5 March - Dundee
    6 March - Glasgow
    7 March - Edinburgh
  • 05 FEB 1969
    Concerto for Clarinet World Premiere
    Royal Festival Hall, London
    BBC Symphony Orchestra
    Gervase de Peyer, clarinet; Colin Davis, conductor
  • Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
    Jack Brymer, clarinet; Alexander Gibson, conductor

Reviews
In the Clarinet Concerto the soloist himself traverses the whole orchestra….organizing concertante groups or cells, starting up disruptive movements which, however, do not subvert but enrich the fabric of the music’s composition. This device is at once theatrical … and musical and it symbolizes the diversity and panache of Thea Musgrave’s invention. The music seethes with a kind of revolutionary vitality harnessed for the greater strength of the wotk as a whole.
David Cairns, New Statesman,1/1/0001
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