The Clarinet is the orchestra's most versatile woodwind
instrument and its rich, expressive tone is a favourite of modern composers.
The Clarinet is a single reed instrument and was
invented by Johann Christoph Denner in the 17th Century but was immediately unpopular due
to its poor sound and terrible intonation. Its revival is thanks to Mozart whose
good friend Anton Stadler had mastered the instrument and who saw the possibilities its
unique texture could offer. The modern Clarinet was designed in the 19th century
when the Boehm key system and a flared bell were added and is made of Grenadilla wood or
Ebonite. The orchestra also uses a Bass Clarinet which has a bent mouthpiece and
upward curving bell and sounds an octave below the clarinet.
Mozart's Clarinet Quintet and Clarinet Concerto and
Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' are examples of the Clarinet's versatility.