The chalumeau in the works of Fux

Lawson, C. (1992) The chalumeau in the works of Fux. In: Johann Joseph Fux and the Music of the Austro-Italian Baroque. Routledge, London, pp. 78-94. ISBN 9780859678322 (hardback) 9781138260498 (paperback) 9781315092287 (e-book)

Abstract

Although single-reed instruments found a place in Vienna throughout the eighteenth century, research into the history of the clarinet has naturally focused largely upon the decade from 1781, which witnessed the fruitful relationship of Mozart with the virtuoso Anton Stadler. The few surviving instruments from this time indeed testify to the pre-eminence of Viennese manufacturers, with specifications which encourage richness of sound and homogeneity of tone in both registers. A particular feature is their evenness of scale in the lowest part of the compass, a speciality of Stadler’s playing which was espoused enthusiastically in Mozart’s works. In 1785 the Viennese aesthetician Daniel Schubart characterized the clarinet as overflowing with love, whilst praising its indescribable sweetness of expression. 1 In addition to the new type of idiomatic clarinet writing inspired by the Mozart-Stadler collaboration, there is other evidence of a more highly evolved playing style in Vienna, for example in Haydn’s clarinet parts in the Creation, which show a considerable advance by comparison with his relatively cautious approach to the instrument in the London symphonies.

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