A Clarinetists Guide to 20th Century English Clarinet Concertos

by Mitchell Estrin

Photo by Maria Teneva

British Clarinet School 

The British clarinet school in the 20th century included such celebrated virtuosi as Jack Brymer, Gervase DePeyer, Georgina Dobrée, Charles Draper, Haydn Draper, Alan Hacker, Reginald Kell, Thea King, Frederick Thurston, Eileen Tranmer (who was also an international chess champion), and Bernard Walton. The superb performance level and elegant artistry of the many great British clarinet performers of the time often inspired composers. 

There were a significant number of clarinet concertos written by composers from the United Kingdom during the twentieth century. A few of these fine works have become popular and are regularly performed, while others have never received the recognition they deserve. 

In an effort to bring some of the more relatively unknown works to light, I have compiled a list of some of the more significant British clarinet concertos from the twentieth century. With a little research, you may find the sheet music and recordings of a number of these gems of the clarinet repertoire. Here is a list of some significant 20th century English clarinet concertos:

Repertoire List

Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006) 

  • Concerto No. 1, Op. 20 (1948) 
  • Concerto No. 2, Op. 115  (1974)

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) 

  • Movements for a Clarinet Concerto  (1942/43)

Geoffrey Bush (1920-1998) 

  • Rhapsody with strings (1940)

Arnold Cooke (1906-2005) 

  • Concerto No. 1 (1956)
  • Concerto No. 2 (1982)    

Adrian Cruft (1921-1987) 

  • Concertino with strings, Op. 21 (1955)

Gerald Finzi (1901-1956) 

  • Concerto with strings (1949)

Iain Hamilton (1922-2000) 

  • Concerto, Op. 7 (1950/51)

Alun Hoddinott (1929-2008) 

  • Concerto 1 with strings, Op. 3 (1953)
  • Concerto 2, Op. 128 (1986)

Joseph Horovitz (b. 1926) 

  • Concertante with String Orchestra (1948)

Gordon Jacob (1895-1984) 

  • Mini-Concerto with string orchestra (1980)

Ivor Keys (1919-1995) 

  • Concerto with strings (1951)

Malcolm MacDonald (1916-1992) 

  • Cuban Rondo with orchestra (1960)

Elizabeth Maconchy (1907-1994)  

  • Concertino No. 1 with string orchestra (1945)
  • Concertino No. 2 with small orchestra (1984)

William Mathias (1934-1992) 

  • Concerto for Clarinet, Op. 68 (1975)

Thea Musgrave (b.1928) 

  • Concerto (1968)

Alan Paul (1905-1968) 

  • Clarinet Concerto (1958)

Alan Rawsthorne (1905-1971)  

  • Concerto with String Orchestra (1936/37)

Alan Ridout (1934-1996) 

  • Clarinet Concertino (1978)

Susan Spain-Dunk (1880-1962)  

  • Cantilena (1931)

John Veale (1922-2006) 

  • Concerto (1954)

Graham Whettam (1927-2007) 

  • Concerto No. 1 (1959)
  • Concerto No. 2 with string orchestra (1982)

Guy Woolfenden (1937-2016) 

  • Clarinet Concerto (1985)

Estrin Circle

About Mitchell Estrin

Mitchell Estrin is Professor of Clarinet at the University of Florida and Music Director and Conductor of the University of Florida Clarinet Ensemble. He is the past President of the International Clarinet Association and author of the biography Stanley Drucker Clarinet Master published by Carl Fischer. Estrin performed as a clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic for over twenty years in hundreds of concerts and on 19  tours. As an international concert artist, he has performed in 37 countries on 4 continents. As a studio musician, Estrin has recorded dozens of motion picture soundtracks for Columbia Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Paramount Pictures, MGM, 20th Century Fox, United Artists, and Warner Brothers on feature films. They include FargoBeauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Interview With a VampireHome Alone 2Pocahontas, Doc HollywoodRegarding HenryThe Untouchables, and more. His television credits include recordings for ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, HBO, TBS, and ESPN. Learn more about Mitchell Estrin

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