Clarinetists are very fortunate to have such a wealth of solo and study repertoire. Some of the greatest composers and clarinet pedagogues in history have written music for the instrument.
As young players progress, there are a number of important milestone repertoire pieces and study books to work on during high school. These musical materials are useful not only for building technique and musicianship, but also to familiarize the aspiring clarinetist with the essential foundational music written for the instrument.
These works are especially important for someone hoping to major in clarinet in college. College professors will often gauge the seriousness and ability level of an applicant by the student's repertoire list. This can be through reading a resume, personal interview, and/or by the repertoire performed at the entrance audition. Certainly, a list of pieces will not get one accepted into a school, but will be one indicator of the knowledge and performance level of the applicant.
Once a student has progressed through the basic foundational materials, such as the Rubank Method books, and Standard of Excellence series in their school band, it is time to start practicing the essential repertoire. I cannot stress enough the significance of taking regular private lessons with a qualified teacher, making sure this person specializes in the clarinet.
Here are my choices for essential pre-college clarinet repertoire:
Baermann - Method for Clarinet, Op. 63, Second Division (This should be studied first and is too often overlooked)
Baermann - Method for Clarinet, Op. 63, Third Division (The definitive scale book)
Klosé - Scales and Exercises
Kroepsch - 416 Progressive Daily Studies
Rose - 32 Etudes (My favorite etude book)
Rose - 40 Studies
Carl Stamitz – Clarinet Concerto No. 3
Saint-Saens – Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
Mozart - Concerto for Clarinet, K. 622 (use an A clarinet, if possible)
Weber – Concertino, Op. 26
Weber - Concerto No. 1, Op. 73 (I prefer the Baermann edition, which is available from multiple publishers)
For solo pieces with accompaniment, it is very important to study the score, not only the clarinet part. This will help you to understand the complete piece. Rehearse with a pianist to familiarize yourself with the accompaniment and to learn your entrances.
With the exception of the Baermann Second Division, all of the listed repertoire will be studied for a lifetime. These monumental works will be visited and revisited as long as you play the clarinet. Begin studying this music seriously in high school, and you will become a very good clarinetist! Remember that mastering an instrument and demonstrating musical artistry are lifelong pursuits. I hope this list is useful and you enjoy playing some of the greatest music ever written for the clarinet!