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The Mystery of the Chalumeau and Its Historical Significance as Revealed Through Selected Works for Chalumeau or Early Clarinet by Antonio Vivaldi

Description: Factual evidence concerning the ancestry of the clarinet has been a perpetual topic of debate among musicologists and organologists. Scholars have widely agreed that the clarinet, first documented in 1710, emerged from the baroque invention of the chalumeau (invented circa 1690), which in itself was an improvement upon the recorder. Considering the chalumeau’s short lifespan as the predominant single reed instrument in the early eighteenth century, the chalumeau inspired a monumental amount of literature that includes vocal and instrumental genres written by distinguished composers. Vivaldi is considered to be the most significant composer that wrote for both clarinet and chalumeau; he wrote for both instruments simultaneously throughout his life whereas his contemporaries seemingly replaced the chalumeau with the clarinet. This project will discuss Vivaldi’s proximity to the chalumeau and the clarinet and will provide an in-depth analysis of relevant works by the composer to determine how he, unlike his contemporaries, treated the chalumeau and the clarinet as separate and equally viable instruments. Following a brief history of the chalumeau and clarinet in Italy and a relevant biography of Vivaldi (Ch. 2), this document will discuss the integral Vivaldi compositions that include clarinet and chalumeau and the role of the clarinet or chalumeau in each work (Ch. 3). Chapter 4 solves the mystery of why Vivaldi continued to compose for the chalumeau while his contemporaries replaced the chalumeau with the clarinet.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Braun, Lindsay T.
Partner: UNT Libraries