Clarinet Works by Black Composers

Originally published in The Clarinet 48/1 (December 2020). Printed copies of The Clarinet are available for ICA members.  Clarinet Works by Black Composers by Marcus Eley Throughout my academic and professional career, I have been an advocate for music by African American composers for clarinet. These composers have not enjoyed the same representation in live performance and recorded music. Though they may not be readily recognizable, their contribution to classical music, no less American music, is significant. This is not to say other composers are less significant, but we must recognize these underrepresented composers. For this article, I will focus on the African American composer’s contribution to the clarinet. The clarinet has occupied a unique role throughout the history of American instrumental music. Apart from its orchestral position, the clarinet has been considered one of the most flexible. It is not surprising that early composers wrote for the clarinet. Its sound, range and timbre were enticements. Mozart, Weber and Brahms were captivated by the clarinet and other composers followed their example. The African American composer did not have the same opportunity or access. The early works (circa 1800s) were primarily for voice and choral ensembles based on the work songs of enslaved people and … Continue reading Clarinet Works by Black Composers