Women composers are disproportionately affected by the slow degradation of sheet music over time. Publication and broad distribution of sheet music has helped ensure the survival of all of the music considered part of the standard repertory today. For hundreds of years, and through no fault of their own, women in particular have struggled to gain the attention of music publishers. Even the music that was once successfully published is sometimes very difficult to find. Consequently, an unknown number of manuscripts have fallen into obscurity.
While some music may be lost forever, it is still possible that some scores may turn up, when and where you least expect them. For example, in the early 1900s, troves of Antonio Vivaldi’s manuscripts were uncovered in the unlikeliest of places. The following women composers reportedly wrote music for clarinet, but the music itself is either very difficult to find, or, completely lost. It is my hope that one day, these scores will materialize in full, for the benefit of clarinetists everywhere.
Lost Clarinet Music of Women Composers
- Marshall, Florence Ashton (1843-1922) | Nocturne for Clarinet and Orchestra
Florence Ashton Marshall, a student of George Macfarren, was a composer, author, and conductor. She contributed to the first edition of Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Among her works is a Nocturne for Clarinet and Orchestra.1 No records appear to indicate where this score may be located.
- Sehested, Hilda (1858-1936) | Intermezzo Pastorale for Clarinet and Piano (1910)
Hilda Sehested was a Danish Romantic composer. Among her extant compositions is a piano trio for clarinet and cello, and several beautiful chamber works other instruments. For clarinet and piano, Sehested composed an Intermezzo Pastorale. A partial score can be found in the Danish Royal Library. Frustratingly, the location of the completed score is currently unknown. There is some hope that the completed score is contained among the papers of the composer, the clarinetist who performed it, or her sister, Thyra, for whom the work was performed upon the 70th anniversary of her birth.
- Decruck, Fernande (1896 – 1954) | Clarinet Concerto
French composer Fernande Decruck’s music is peppered with the influences of French impressionism. Ethereal whole tone and pentatonic scales, elegant lyricism, and lofty planing chords color her existing works for clarinet and piano. Records indicate she did at some point in her career compose an entire concerto for clarinet and orchestra. Tragically, the score has yet to be uncovered.
- Bacewicz, Grażyna (1909-1969) | Clarinet Quintet
Grazyna Bacewicz was a Polish composer and violinist. She composed several works for the clarinet, including chamber music as well as music for clarinet and piano. She composed a work for clarinet and string quartet, and it even received a performance on the Polish Radio of Warsaw2. My hope is that further investigation at the Documentation and Programme Collections Centre of the Polish Television and the Archives of the Polish Radio may lead to a recording of the work, names of the performers, and eventually, a copy of the manuscript, which is currently lost.
- Bacewicz, Grażyna (1909-1969) | Trio (1948)
Bacewicz also composed a trio for reed instruments in 1948. The Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California indicates that the piece was performed at least once, on March 4, 1948, in Kracow. The performers were: S. Śnieckowski – oboe, Rudnicki – clarinet, Orłow – bassoon. However, there is no record of its publication or a library holding of the manuscript.
- Arrieu, Claude (1903-1990) | Variations, Interlude, et Finale (1932)
Claude Arrieu composed several works for clarinet and piano, and clarinet and winds. There are two works that interest me that that I simply have not been able to find. I first noticed the title “Variations, Interlude, et FInale” in the International Encyclopedia of Women Composers. Written for clarinet, flute, viola, and piano in 1932, the work was not accompanied by a publisher name, leading me to believe it was never published.
- Arrieu, Claude | Concerto for Woodwind Quintet and Orchestra (1962)
Arrieu also composed a work for woodwind quintet and orchestra in 1962, and it is recorded in the International Encyclopedia of Women Composers as having been published by Ricordi in Milan in 1962. A scan of the Ricordi website led to no results, however, I have held on to the hope that the publishing company may still have this work in its collection, but for whatever reason, it is not for sale on the Ricordi website.
- Vito-Delvaux, Berthe di (1915-2005) | Suite for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 14 (1941)
Belgian composer Berthe di Vito-Delvaux composed several works for the clarinet. Unfortunately, her primary publisher, Brogneaux, has long since gone out of business. While several libraries purchased many of her other works, I have had no luck locating a copy of her Op. 14 Suite for Clarinet and Piano. It was composed in 1941. A glimmer of hope for its revival exists, as her daughter, also a musician, collaborated with Ensemble Quartz on an album of her mother’s music that included several clarinet works. If anyone holds a copy, the members of the Quartz Ensemble, or the composer’s daughter, may know where to look.
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- Silke Wenzel. “Florence Marshall,” in: MUGI. Music education and gender research: Lexicon and multimedia presentations , ed. by Beatrix Borchard and Nina Noeske, University of Music and Theater Hamburg, 2003ff. https://mugi.hfmt-hamburg.de/de/Artikel/Florence_Marshall.html