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The heritage of English clarinet virtuosi

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Clarinets in the Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical


The heritage of English clarinet virtuosi

Henry Lazarus
The relationship between virtuosi, instrument
makers and composers are of great interest - many a
work would not have been composed, had there not
been the instrument makers who provided
mechanical solutions for the complex requirements
of composers. On the other hand the tonal and
technical possibilities of a certain instrument model
might have inspired the playing of a virtuoso. The
famous British clarinettist Henry Lazarus
(1815-1895), for example, played on the clarinet by
Albert shown here, which was obviously a present
by the firm. As a result of such a donation the
instrument makers could use the fame and brilliance
of the virtuoso in their advertising. The annotation
Approved by Mr. Lazarus applied on Albert
clarinets became a hallmark. His Simple System
clarinet has a patent C sharp mechanism, an

Photos: Detail of a clarinet in A owned by Henry

Lazarus by E. Albert, Brussels, c 1865 (136).

additional Bb throat key, and a side Bb for R1. An

interesting detail of the Lazarus instrument are the
cross keys, which have rollers to enable the fingers
to slide between key and tone-hole in fast or legato

Reginald Kell

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The mouthpiece of the set doesnt show any traces

of the teeth, because Reginald Kell always used a
double lip embouchure. The B levers for L4 are bent
so as to lie much higher than on most instruments; a
piece of cloth is glued below the thumb-rest; both of
these modifications were made by Kell himself.

Photo: Pair of Boehm system clarinets owned by

Reginald Kell made by Hawkes & Son in London
about 1925 (2800) and (2801).

George Tyler, Julian Egerton

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These clarinets were made for George Tyler, who

died in 1878. The famous clarinettist Julian Egerton
(1848-1945) bought them from Tylers widow. This
very fine set was made by J. Fieldhouse in London
about 1862, (114) and (133). It has a cocus
mouthpiece, and the body of each instrument is
made in one piece from ebonite. The instruments
show some excellent and interesting details e.g.
metal rollers on cross keys and the A-touchpiece.
Like the Ottensteiner they have plates to improve
the forked fingerings.

Photo: Pair of clarinets, made by John Fieldhouse,

London, c 1862, (114) and (133).

Another pair of Fieldhouse clarinets features a very

individual and progressive system. It modifies the
Sax type and uses some of Kloss improvements.

Photo: Pair of clarinets, made by John Fieldhouse,

London, c 1855, (118) and (135).

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Next chapter: Sources in our collection

Contents of the Clarinet Web Guide

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