Swiss Clarinet Day 2013

Last weekend I was invited to participate and lecture in the annual meeting of Swiss Clarinet Society. It took place in the music school of the small town Burgdorf near Bern, and I was especially fond of visiting because I grew up in another small town called Burgdorf, situated between Hannover and Celle 750 km North of Swiss Burgdorf.

The Clarinet Day was a whole day full of lectures, recitals, meeting people, and rehearsals – a clarinet ensemble workshop and a jazz clarinet workshop were offered. One of the clarinet’s Grand Seigneurs Hans Rudolf Stalder was there (he was awarded honours for his life work from the International Clarinet Association), and I was pleased to meet Hanstoni Kaufmann who is very successful with his new book Klarinettenblätter korrigieren. Many other players of all levels and styles – amateurs, professionals, teachers, new music performers, jazz players, orchestra musicians – exchanged their experiences and shared their passion.

Christoph Schnyder: Mein Weg zur verstärkten Bassklarinette

 The congress started at 9 o’clock in the morning with the presentation of a clarinetist from Burgdorf, Christoph Schnyder. Inspired by American bass clarinetist Michael Löwenstern (Manhattan School of Music), Christoph adds a microphone and a loop station to his bass clarinet and processes his playing through a computer software. The outcome is a pop-like, easy music. Christoph writes out all his pieces.

 Stephan Siegenthaler: No Poulenc, no Brahms…

Stephan Siegenthaler, also living in Burgdorf and the organizer of the event, spoke about forgotten clarinet repertoire that is worth being rediscovered. In the beginning of his lecture he mentioned the well-known „gold diggers“ such as Dieter Klöcker, Hans Rudolf Stalder, Thomas Friedli, Jost Michaels, and Eduard Brunner who all contributed to broadening the canon of reularly performed clarinet music. Stephan himself has recorded several CDs with rare classic and romantic repertoire and showed us some of his favourites.

Sonatas for clarinet and piano:
Daniel Gregory Mason (1873-1953)
Donald Francis Tovey (1875-1940)
Albert Moeschinger (1897-1985)

Music for clarinet and string quartet:
Robert Fuchs (1847-1927)
Ferdinand Thieriot (1838-1919)
Ewald Strässer (1867-1933)
Henri Marteau (1874-1934)

Music for clarinet, cello and piano:
Wilhelm Berger, Robert Kahn, Carl Frühling

Works by Heinrich Kaminski (1886-1946):
op. 1b for clarinet, viola, cello, piano
quintet for clarinet, French horn, violin, viola, cello (1924)
Drei geistliche Lieder for soprano, violin, clarinet (1922/23)

Clarinet concerts:
Gottfried Hendrik Mann (1858-1904)
Bernhard Molique

Also mentioned was Joseph Purebl (a monk supposed to have lived 1786-1838) with his „Concert in A major“, but Stephan pointed out that he was not quite sure if this person really existed. The clarinet concert is the only known work by him, and the compositional style – Stephan played a short excerpt of his own recording to us – is somewhat … helpless.

Finally, Stephan mentioned some unknown Italian composers such as the oboist Carlo Pässler who composed quite a lot clarinet music, amongst others a divertimento for clarinet and four strings, and Alessandro Rolla (basset horn concerto in F major).

As sources of his research, besides libraries and encyclopedias, Stephan mentioned and

Heinrich Mätzener: Der Klarinettenklang – Versuch einer physiologischen Analyse

In his lecture Heinrich Mätzener, clarinetist at the Zurich Opera, spoke about his research in posture and muscle tension that he has been doing together with a physiotherapist. He pointed out that the focus on the muscles of feet, calfs and the back leads to a better sound than the exclusive focus on Atemhilfsmuskulatur and belly muscles. Heinrich and his physiotherapist colleague follow the idea that an „activation“ of the arch of foot which might be described as „hold on the floor“ leads to a positive activation of the leg and back muscles, giving the body a better upward direction and at the same time allowing free breathing and a neck muscles.

I think that with this idea, the researchers are close to some aspects of Dispokinesis.

A detailed description of the research project can be found on the website of Hochschule Luzern.

My Lecture: Die Bohlen-Pierce Klarinette

In my lecture I demonstrated and explained the Bohlen-Pierce clarinet. I do not want to review my own lecture in this blog post. If you are interested, visit my website.


Lunchbreak, and time for a beer. Burgdorf has two breweries one of which is the one-man-enterprise Üelus Homebrew: A fresh and tasty ale of apricot colour, and the playful taste of citrus fruits brought forth by its high-quality hops. Delicious!


Üelus Homebrew is served in a little Bistro in a street named Hofstatt.


Matthias Müller: SABRe – Sensor Augmented Bass Clarinet Research

Matthias Müller from Zurich and his technician colleagues David Jud and Isai Angst showed off their project SABRe. Matthias has several sensors and buttons on his bass clarinet: One sensor on the mouthpiece that measures the air pressure, some buttons around the left hand thumb keys, an accelerometer further down on the instrument and a set of sensors or microphones on various keys to pick up the whole instrument. By using these sensors and buttons he controls sound and video effects through a Max/Jitter patch, having a technician as a „human backup“ on the computer if corrections are needed.

Matthias explains hard- and software of his sensor augmented bass clarinet in several documents which can be found here:

A very short description can be found on Matthias’s webpage.

A more detailed description of the sensors on ICST / Zurich University of Arts.

Links to publications and information about the SABRe server to download can be found here. You will not find a maxpatch, supercollider program or others here.

Dirk Altmann: Deutsche Klarinette vs. Böhmklarinette (A Listening Experiment)

Dirk Altmann, principal with Radio Symphony orchestra (RSO) Stuttgart had prepared a blind test in clarinet judging for the audience. Behind a screen he played to excerpts (Freischütz ouverture and the beginning of Debussy’s Première Rhapsody) on four different clarinets: A 1936 Uebel and a 1988 Wurlitzer (both Oehler system) as well as a 1956 Buffet and the new R10 model (both Boehm). The audience were asked to judge the instruments regarding the dynamic range, evenness of registers and personal preferences; finally a guess should be made whether it was a Boehm or an Oehler instrument. It turned out that the personal preferences were quite different – except one objective parameter, intonation – and that there is absolutely no obvious difference between a „Boehm“ and a „German“ clarinet sound. Differences in sound characteristics, if they show up, seem to depend exclusively from the player’s sound imagination and playing style.

In the afternoon, I had time to check out the exhibitions of Schwenk&Seggelke, Vandoren, Buffet and the new and very fine reed company Lupifaro from Lugano.

Enough lectures for today, now it is time for recitals:
The ad-hoc clarinet ensemble gave a short concert.
Fabien Lerat, a very fine French clarinetist living in Geneve played works for clarinet solo.
Reknown Swiss jazz player Simon Wyrsch performed with his quartet.

And home we went. Stephan Siegenthaler and his family were wonderful and generous hosts to Dirk Altmann, Bernhard Röthlisberger, Fabien Lerat and me.


About msmullerful

Freelance musician (clarinetist), mostly involved in contemporary music projects but still able to play the classic repertoire.
This entry was posted in Centres and Institutions, Clarinet, Lectures and Masterclasses and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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