Instruments | Clarinet | Classical Era | Classical

The clarinet is a wooden instrument of cylindrical bore, with a single vibrating reed in a mouthpiece. Clarinets began to appear in music by J. C. Bach and Arne in the 1760s, although they differed in several ways from the modern instrument. The famous Mannheim orchestra championed it. Mozart wrote parts for it in his Divertimento K113, perhaps as a result of his travels to the Mannheim court. His operas make extensive, if straight-forward, use of clarinets, probably the five-keyed boxwood instruments in C, B flat and A, which began to be available from about 1770.

At the same time as the lower notes of the instrument – now known as the ‘chalumeau register’ – became more playable, so the ancient chalumeau was dropped. The classical era continued to be a time of experiment and several different com­peting and complementary instruments were on the market throughout Europe. Mozart wrote for a deeper clarinet called the basset horn in his Requiem. His friend, the virtuoso Anton Stadler (1753–1812), developed a variant known to us as the ‘basset clarinet’ in around 1789. Again a little deeper than the modern clarinet, it was the instrument for which Mozart wrote both his Clarinet Concerto (1791) and his Clarinet Quintet (1789). The early nineteenth century saw the development of 13-keyed instruments.

Styles & Forms | Classical Era | Classical
Instruments | French Horn | Classical Era | Classical


An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...


Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.

Rock, A Life Story

Rock, A Life Story

The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.

David Bowie

David Bowie

Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers his life, music, art and movies, with a sweep of incredible photographs.