Weber, Carl Maria von


Weber, Carl Maria von

Concertino for Clarinet in E flat Major, Op. 26

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Carl Maria von Weber

(b. Eutin, North Germany, 18. November 1786 – d. London, 6. May 1826)

Concertino for Clarinet in E flat Major, Op. 26

The eighteenth century bore several genres that have since become integral parts of—in fact even at times synonymous with—the notion of Classical music: sonata, symphony, and concerto.1 The latter one grew out of the older concerti grossi for multiple instruments, and soon turned into a favorite genre for the display of idiomatic writing for solo instruments. Although string instruments held the lion’s share of earlier concertos, technical innovations of wind instruments led to many composers writing idiomatic pieces for these instruments as well. Of the four woodwind members of the classical orchestra—flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon—the clarinet was the last one to be added to the list. First added to the orchestra in Mozart’s lifetime, the clarinet secured a steady foothold in the orchestra by around 1800.

The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw a dramatic increase in the popularity of the clarinet and subsequently in the composition of works for the instrument.2 As with virtually all other woodwind instruments, the clarinet transformed drastically over the course of the nineteenth century, most notably with several keys added to the instrument, thereby facilitating chromatic notes, trills, and improving intonation and uniformity of sound. The most famous clarinet virtuosos of the early nineteenth-century were Johann Simon Hermstedt (1778–1846) and Heinrich Baermann (1784–1847). Interestingly, they collaborated with two of the most innovative composers of the early Romantic era, Louis Spohr (1784–1859) and Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826); Spohr wrote four concertos and several other works for Hermstedt and Weber wrote his two concertos, his concertino, and his other chamber works with Baermann in mind. Weber, who knew both clarinetists personally, compared them as follows: „Hermstedt played twice, very beautifully, [with] a thick, almost muffled tone. But he does not overcome enormous difficulties very well, some of which horribly against the nature of the instrument…[He] has adopted many bowing strokes from violinists which works well at times. But what is missing is the complete uniformity of the tone from the top to the bottom [register] and the heavenly and tasteful delivery of Baermann.“3

Weber first came into contact with Baermann in 1811 in Munich, where the two musicians had arrived after two separate tours. After the successful collaboration of the two in Munich, Baermann suggested that they should tour together. Subsequently, Weber’s tour with Baermann became the turning point in his career and secured his fame as a composer. Although most clarinets in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries had five keys, Baermann played instruments with ten and, later, even twelve keys (precursors to the Mueller and the modern Austro-German Oehler system clarinets, which have more keys than the so-called Boehm system clarinets).4 Moreover, Baermann championed the new technique of playing with the reed on the bottom lip, which superseded the older way of playing in which the reed would be placed on the top lip. Heinrich’s son, Carl Baermann also became a renowned clarinetist, and developed a new key system for the instrument, popular during the late nineteenth century. Carl Baermann’s method for the clarinet is still being used by students the world over, particularly in Germany…


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Score No.



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Solo Instrument(s) & Orchestra


210 x 297 mm