The Clarinet Comes of Age, c. 1760 – c. 1810: A Tale of Two Cities

Crisp, C. J. (2016) The Clarinet Comes of Age, c. 1760 – c. 1810: A Tale of Two Cities. Doctoral theses, Royal College of Music, London.

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This doctoral thesis investigates the historical, musical and sociological development of the clarinet in Paris and London, c. 1760 – c. 1810. These centres have often been overlooked in previous research which has focused primarily on Vienna, so the present study redresses this balance, examining a wide variety of documentary, organological and musical sources. The critical investigation of these hitherto undiscovered sources demonstrates the importance of these centres as locations integral to the promotion of the instrument, the clarinettist, contemporary playing techniques and repertoire. This project interrogates the use of the clarinet in different contexts, venues and at all levels of society, creating the most comprehensive picture of clarinet activity in these two centres thus far. The tonal and expressive qualities of the 18th-century clarinet and clarinettist have been neglected in existing research, with the organological development of the instrument forming a main focus. By contrast, this study determines how the clarinet may have sounded at this time, exploring contemporary instruments manufactured in each centre and interrogating previously neglected reports of audience reception to both solo and ensemble performances. The present research identifies and examines a number of hitherto unknown clarinet players and teachers who contributed to the developing popularity of the clarinet in Paris or London. In addition, this study is also the first to confirm and discuss the emergence of early amateur markets of clarinet players at all levels of society in each centre.

A particular focus of this project is its detailed investigation and comparison of pedagogical material for the clarinet published in Paris and London, c. 1760-c. 1810. Working across theory and practice, this project discusses the relationship between the advice, musical examples and practical exercises contained in contemporary methods, subjects which are not considered in previous research. This discussion culminates with a critical examination of tutors by John Mahon, 1801 and Xavier Lefèvre, 1802, a comparison not previously attempted. The present research determines how effective Mahon and Lefèvre’s works were as progressive learning processes from beginner to more advanced clarinettist and investigates if their works prepared the clarinettist for performing music composed by them. The practical part of this study focuses on works available to the amateur clarinettist which were published in 18th- and early 19th-century Paris and London. These works represent music for the many, rather than the few and the present research considers the importance of these pieces as a fundamental part of a developing repertoire for the instrument. The music contained in 18th- and early 19th-century clarinet tutors has received no attention in previous research which neglects to consider its importance as examples of early repertoire for the instrument. This project which combines practical and theoretical study is therefore the first to explore the changing and developing expectations of both the clarinet and clarinettist in Paris and London at this time. In particular, this research also facilitates an investigation into the practical considerations associated with performing this repertoire on a variety of extant and replica instruments, demonstrating the fundamental importance of the combination of theory and practice within this study.

Publication Type: Theses (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Clarinet, Development of the clarinet, Eighteenth-century music in Paris and London, Eighteenth-century Performance Practice, Pedagogy, c. 1760- c. 1810, Concert life in Paris and London, Concert Spirituel, Paris Conservatoire, Orchestras, Popular Culture.
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Divisions: Academic Areas > Conservatoire
Student Research > Doctoral
Depositing User: Catherine Crisp
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2019 10:22
Last Modified: 12 May 2023 14:43

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