Orchestral Excerpts for the Clarinet

A guide to teaching and playing

Orchestral excerpts are among the most important things to teach the career-minded clarinet student because the most common way to make a living as a clarinettist today is by playing in an orchestra. In order to be hired, one must first posess the ability to play the instrument well, and the most common choice of music at an audition to demonstrate this is orchestral excerpts.

When teaching orchestral excerpts to clarinet students it is important to teach from two distinct angles: how to play the excerpts in an orchestral rehearsal or performance, and how to play the excerpts at an audition. Often one will play them the same in both situations, but occasionally one must tailor one's performance to the situation.

In the summaries, audio, and video that follow I will attempt to point out ways to assist the student in performing the pieces from both a technical and musical standpoint, discuss the current performance practice of these pieces, and highlight trouble spots, common pitfalls, and passages of particular interest to an audition committee.

Finally, listening to the pieces is of utmost importance to proper performance either in the orchestra or at an audition, and whenever possible orchestral parts should be used for study instead of excerpt books.

In 1999, while working on my Master's Degree, I wrote a paper on teaching and playing orchestral excerpts. Parts of it are printed here and on other pages in my website, but the entire paper is linked below. It contains, in order:
An introduction to excerpts listed by commonality and importance on auditions
Mozart - Symphony #39
Beethoven - all Symphonies
Schubert - Symphony #8
Rossini - Semiramide Overture, Barber of Seville Overture and "Largo, al factotum" (Figaro's aria)
Mendelssohn - Midsummer Night's Dream, Symphony #3 and 4
Berlioz - Symphony Fantastique
Brahms - all Symphonies
Verdi - Overture to "La Forza del Destino"
Smetana - Overture to "The Bartered Bride"
Dvorak - Symphony #9
Tchaikovsky - Symphony #4, 5, and 6; "Mozartiana" Suite; Francesca di Rimini Overture

Orchestral Excerpt Paper

Beethoven - 4th Symphony

Beethoven - 6th Symphony

Beethoven - 8th Symphony

Brahms - 3rd Symphony

Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue

Kodaly - Dances of Galanta

Mendelssohn - Scherzo from Midsummer's Night Dream

Mendelssohn - Symphony No. 3 "Scottish"

Nielsen - 5th Symphony

Prokofiev - Peter and the Wolf

Puccini - Tosca

Rachmaninoff - Symphony No. 2

Ravel - Bolero (E-flat Clarinet)

Ravel - Daphnis and Chloe

Ravel - Daphnis and Chloe (E-flat Clarinet)

Respighi - Pines of Rome

Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio Espagnol

Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade

Rossini - Semiramide Overture

Schubert - Unfinished Symphony

Shostakovich - Symphony No. 1

Shostakovich - Symphony No. 9

Sibelius - Symphony No. 1

Strauss - Don Juan

Stravinsky - Firebird Suite (1919)

Stravinsky - L'Histoire du Soldat

Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring (E-flat Clarinet)

Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 6

Complete Video Playlist