Most Famous Clarinet Pieces Ever Played

Do you want to know more about the most iconic clarinet pieces ever played? This article has listed down five all-time favorites, read it now to find out more.

There are many famous clarinet pieces in history that you should know about. This article looks at five famous clarinet pieces you should know about. It provides you with firsthand information you need at your fingertips and will inspire you to find out more. You stand to gain a deeper insight into the beautiful world of clarinet musical pieces as you read on.

As we begin, let us look at the different systems of clarinet playing, how they came about and why. We shall then delve into a few of the renowned composers before we look at the famous pieces they wrote. Let’s get into it.

The Styles and Systems of Clarinet Playing

To understand the uniqueness of the world’s famous clarinet pieces, you need to understand the styles and systems they are based on.

Different countries had different clarinet playing styles in the 18th century. These differences arose from the differences in the basic structure of the instruments, the geographical isolation of the regions, and environmental factors. Different schools of clarinet playing emerged based on either the Boehm System or Oehler System. The French used the Boehm System. Germans and Austrians preferred the Oehler System.

Here are some quick facts as you read along

Quick facts

  • The French style of playing is based on the Boehm system built around bright lighter tones on the clarinet. The compositions and writings emphasize the brighter, lighter tone capabilities of the clarinet.
  • On the contrary, the German-Viennese style of playing focuses on dark, mellow tonal compositions. It is based on the Oehler system that exploits the darker tone quality of a clarinet.
  • The good news to you as a modern clarinetist is that you are allowed to experiment with tones and have the opportunity to be more dynamic in style without some of the constraints of the 18th century.
  • Now that you know the styles and systems that define the style and structural arrangements of the famous clarinet pieces, here is a list of some of the famous composers of clarinet pieces.

List of 10 Famous Composers of Clarinet Pieces

Composer Place of Birth Year
1 Iwan Müller Reval, Estonia 1786 – 1854
2 Aaron Copland Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A 1900 – 1990
3 Johannes Brahms Hamburg, Germany 1833 – 1897
4 Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber Eutin, Germany 1786 – 1826
5 Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc Paris, France 1899 – 1963
6 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Salzburg, Austria 1756 – 1791
7 Franz Krommer Kamenice, Czechoslovakia 1759 – 1831
8 Johann Stamitz Havlíčkův Brod, Czechoslovakia 1717 – 1757
9 Darius Milhaud Marseille, France 1892 – 1923
10 Elliott Carter Manhattan, New York, U.S.A 1908 – 2012

Table: Ten composers of iconic clarinet pieces

There are many other talented composers from Italy, Britain, and other countries in Europe and other continents who have not been featured on this list. You can read more about them and add to your knowledge repertoire.

Do not marvel anymore trying to discover what it takes to make a great clarinet piece? Your answer is right within this article. Find it out as you read on.

What Makes A Great Clarinet Piece?

A great clarinet piece is determined by:

The composer

Ordinary people who extraordinarily use their gifts and talents to impact humanity through what they do have the quality of greatness.

Dr. Martin Luther King JR observed that a man should respond to his life’s call with the dedication of Michelangelo to his paintings, Beethoven to his music, and Shakespeare to his writing of poetry. He concluded that heaven should acclaim the man who did his job well when he is no more.

This list of great clarinet pieces represents extraordinary music composers who made music so well that greatness became a part of it.

The History

All great things in life have a story. The clarinet pieces in this list tell stories of friendship, human resilience, mortality, and above all the greatness of the composers. History is the heritage we inherit from the generations before us and bequeath to the generations after us. Mozart, Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Carl Maria von Webber, and Aaron Copland must appear in the pages when the history of music is written.

Mozart wrote Clarinet Concerto for his friend and clarinetist Anton Stadler a few months before his death. Brahms on the other hand came from retirement to write Clarinet Sonata No.2 to his favorite clarinetist, friend, and inspirational figure German clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld. He named Brahms the greatest wind player in the world.

The Musical Ingenuity

The composers of the clarinet pieces listed here created authentic, clever, and inventive art. The technical skills involved and the level of creativity is unmatched. Aaron Copland reinvented sound in his era which earned him the acclaimed title of the creator of the sound of American music. He managed to seamlessly weave jazz into opera and orchestra.

Carl Maria von Webber on the other hand made music that speaks about romance at a deeper level than words can express. This is evidenced in the piece of work shared in this list among his many others

These composers made the clarinet soar above all other instruments within an opera. You can’t help but wonder how they knew the clarinet is the instrument to make the music.

Five Great Clarinet Pieces of all time

A clarinet piece is a musical composition arranged with the clarinet as the prominent item in the composition. You are aware of what a clarinet is and how it works. You are also aware of what a clarinet piece is. The table below lists five clarinet masterpieces of all time that you should listen to.





Mozart-Clarinet Concerto Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 1791 Concerto
Brahms – Clarinet Quintet Johannes Brahms 1891 Concerto
Copland – Clarinet Concerto Aaron Copland 1947 Concerto
Brahms – Clarinet Sonata No. 2 Johannes Brahms 1894 Sonata
Weber – Clarinet Concerto No. 2 Carl Maria von Weber 1811 Concerto

Table: List of five great clarinet pieces of all time

Sonata and Concerto

The musical terms sonata and concerto used hereby are derived from Latin.

  • Concerto and Sonata are music terms derived from the Latin language.
  • Concerto means to tie and fight. Sonata means to sing. Sonata compositions involve singing within the piece of music while concerto compositions are entirely instrumental in structure.
  • Sonatas differ from concertos in the number of movements in the arrangement. Concertos have three movements while Sonatas have four.

How We Chose the Most Famous Clarinet Pieces Ever Played

We selected these pieces based on:


The level of technical mastery and uniqueness of style in the clarinet compositions listed above greatly influenced why we chose them.

Copland’s music is known for open, slow-paced changing sounds harmonies. His signature technique of gradual sound style became known as the sound of American music.

Mozart blends three movements of benign lyrical passages with virtuosity to create a tantalizing masterpiece in his composition. The clarinet concerto not only points to his genius. It indicates the direction his music would have followed if he had lived on.


Mozart: Clarinet Concerto

This piece is arranged and performed in three movements. It begins at a fast-paced tempo; the second movement slows down before it picks up a fast tempo seamlessly at the end. Mozart begins this piece with a sonata. This unique idea infuses energy into the piece and carries you along with it as it progresses to the second and third movements. Your attention is grabbed from the beginning as you listen to this beautiful concerto.

Brahms – Clarinet Sonata No. 2

This clarinet piece is also flawlessly executed in three movements. The first movement is an Allegro amiable. Performers are directed to be gracious and amiable as they explore the depths of this musical masterpiece. Their demeanor and the music transfer the same energy to you as you listen along.

He then progresses to the second movement in this arrangement which is an Allegro appassionato. Great emotion is infused into the performance at this stage as directed within the composition. The music will take you on an emotional roller-coaster at this stage before it calms you down in the final stage of the composition.

The piece then slows down the momentum but retains the degree of energy. The final movement of this peace is Adante con moto.

Copland – Clarinet Concerto

This piece is structured in two movements played back to back. This makes the arrangement unusual as it moves away from the norm of such compositions. Copland further infuses a bit of a jazzy groove into the composition and entire arrangement. This is one of the main reasons why he is called the founder of the American sound by peers,

When you listen to this piece, you can feel the strong emotions and the internal struggles within Copland. He admits that the first portion of his composition may have been influenced by his feelings of loneliness and the social alienation he felt due to his homosexual orientation at a time when it was taboo.

Brahms – Clarinet Quintet

The piece is structured to be performed in four movements.

  • Allegro – fast
  • Adagio – slow with dynamic change
  • Andantino – slightly faster than Adante but still slow, moderately fast
  • Con Moto-with movement

It begins at a faster tempo that grabs your attention immediately and keeps you hooked. This transits to a slow tempo with dynamic changes that keeps you glued and interested in anticipation of what next. The slow tempo gradually transitions to a moderately fast tempo in the third movement before finally adding movement of the performers’ to the piece as the music hits a breathtaking climax.

The feeling

Great music invokes feelings and emotions. Music is exceptional only when it can communicate to and connect to the human soul. Copland makes you feel his loneliness and social estrangement as he tries to fit into a society that disproves his homosexuality.

Webber on the other hand invokes intense feelings of romance when you listen to his composition. He uses Clarinet Concerto No. 2 to connect humanity to romance. He deeply examines romance with each note, each movement, and melody. You can feel the anguish, the hopelessness, the joy, and all within the music as it moves from one stage to the next.

Reviews of the Most Famous Clarinet Pieces Ever Played

Mozart-Clarinet Concerto

Mozart writes music for the clarinet in a league of his own. Mozart wrote Clarinet Concerto in 1791 for his friend and prolific clarinetist Anton Sadler. Here is a piece of Mozart at the peak of his game. He was at his best when he wrote this one.

It is among the last pieces ever written by Mozart and holds sentimental value. This piece can be looked at as Mozart’s farewell note to the world since he died two months after writing it.

The composition looks simple and easy on paper but it should not fool you. It is quite challenging to play. It has predominantly featured in many classical music auditions worldwide for this reason. It was specifically composed to suit the technical and full expressive range of the basset clarinet.

Brahms – Clarinet Quintet

The clarinet quintet written in 1891by Brahms captures bittersweet romanticism in four movements. It exemplifies the romantic touch of his music. The piece is a contest between beauty and tenderness pitted against struggle and anguish. Brahms’s authority as one of the best composers and writers during the classical romantic era is authoritatively stamped in this clarinet piece.

Richard Mühlfeld inspired Brahms to come out of retirement and write this piece. When he heard Richard playing, he was so inspired that he changed his mind about his retirement from music. He struck a friendship with Richard and wrote the German clarinetist this timeless In 35 minutes musical masterpiece. We consider this one of the finest works ever produced by Brahms.

Copland – Clarinet Concerto

This extraordinary piece of classical music was written in 1947 by Aaron Copland. Benny Goodman commissioned him to write this for a jazz musical project. The Clarinet Concerto goes against all conventional classical music rules.

Copland does not disappoint. He fuses jazz with concerto elements to produce 17 minutes of pure musical magic in a breathtaking collision of jazz with heavy modern harmonies. The result is a sustained thrilling tension that builds like a sweltering volcano within the listener from the very start to the end.

It features a careful instrumental balance with well-placed spacious tempos that allow the music to shine out of the bars.

Brahms – Clarinet Sonata No. 2

The Clarinet Sonata No. 2 is the second in a series of four pieces Brahms wrote when he came back from a self-imposed retirement. He wrote the clarinet sonata no.2 in 1894. The opening melody is irresistible. The entire composition is an intense exploration of permeating harmonies.

Emotional temperatures are raised as the music takes hold of the listeners and the performers who interact with it. The clarinet and piano engage in an intricate dialogue that makes you feel the music speaking to you. The movements in the piece are contrasted. The Sonata has a captivating happy ending just like its beginning.

Weber – Clarinet Concerto No. 2

Weber rightfully holds the title of the best classical music romantic. He was undeniably an expert in operatic writing. His expertise shows in how he effortlessly adds the operatic feel in the solo parts of this composition he wrote in 1811.

He delivers enchanting music while expressing tone and color in such a personal yet profound way that is unique to his writing. He is among the first composers to write musical pieces predominantly featuring the clarinet after Mozart. This work is among the best clarinet pieces he ever wrote.


Delivering a world-famous acclaimed clarinet piece takes special skill and, commitment to the craft. When you add a rich history of discipline mixed with a touch of exceptional creativity to writing, arranging, and performing a composition, the result is a world-class masterpiece.

We have explored the clarinet and how the parts work together harmoniously to create beautiful music. We have also looked at some famous clarinet pieces. The list is just the tip of the iceberg. You can find more.

The world at large and music, in particular, will forever drink from the rich fountains and savor the beauty of these timeless pieces. It is important to learn from these great musical pieces. It is the best thing we can do to preserve the rich history and beautiful heritage they bequeath the human race.


When was the clarinet invented?

The clarinet was in 1690 by German instrument maker Christoph Denner.

Who are famous clarinetists?

There are many famous clarinetists worldwide. Anton Stadler and Benny Goodman are just a few notable ones.

What is a famous piece of clarinet music?

This is a concerto or sonata respected worldwide by musicians, educators and audiences for example Clarinet Sonata No. 2 by Brahms

Charlotte Moore is a Clarinetist by profession and has over time offered lessons on how to play the clarinet among other musical instruments. And while a majority of clarinet players are well versed with the process of settling with a good clarinet among other accompanying features. There is little information about clarinets. The reason why Charlotte prepared comprehensive experts touching on the various facets of the clarinet. The consolidated information will offer more insight on everything clarinets including the best stand to use, and the best plastic clarinet that you can invest in, among other information. Charlotte Moore is a devoted mother of two and a professional clarinet player.

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