5 College Clarinet Audition Pieces by Women Composers

Auditioning for college with clarinet music by women composers.

Picking repertoire for your college clarinet audition can be stressful, especially for students who do not have the guidance of a private teacher. With the thousands of available options, how can a young student be sure which piece will make the best impression?

An audition committee wants to hear you play a piece of music that demonstrates your knowledge of classical repertoire for your instrument, that you have achieved enough technical proficiency on the clarinet to participate in ensembles, juries, and recitals, at a level comparable to other students at that institution, and that you have potential to continue to grow and mature as a musician in the four years ahead of you.

So the question remains, what repertoire will demonstrate this to a committee? At the undergraduate level, the student is often given free rein to pick whatever he or she wants to play. Unfortunately, to a young student with limited performance experience, a lack of guidance can be completely overwhelming.

By and large, the most commonly-performed pieces are concertos by Mozart, Weber, Stamitz, etudes by Rose, and Camille Saint-Säens’ sonata. Although you could demonstrate proficiency performing these works, these composers don’t offer an enormously diverse palette of genres or genders. If you want to demonstrate proficiency, and an impressive knowledge of repertoire, consider performing works by the following women composers: (click composers’ names to learn more and hear excerpts of each piece)

  1. Images de Norvege – Ida Gotkovsky
    1. The first movement of Ida Gotkovsky’s Images of Norway would, by itself, make an excellent audition piece. Like any good standalone audition piece, the first movement features both slow, lyrical moments, as well as a few challenging, faster, technical passages. While the second movement, which is faster and more technically challenging, would pair nicely as a contrasting piece, a contrasting etude may also combine well.

  2. Sonatina – Caroline Schleicher-Krähmer
    1. The first movement of this early 19th-century work begins with a lovely adagio section before moving on to a slightly faster, more impassioned B-section. In the case of an audition that only requires the performance of one piece, this movement could feature as a wonderful standalone option. A contrasting, technically-challenging etude would combine well with this movement.

  3. Romanze – Princess Marie Elisabeth von Sachsen-Meiningen
    1. This one-movement, late-romantic piece for clarinet and piano is an outstanding choice for an audition that only requires the performance of one piece. About 7 minutes in length, the piece features a passionate introduction, fast, articulated scales, as well as a contrasting second “B” section.

  4. Three Dances – Germaine Tailleferre
    1. The first movement–a slow, delicate, and emphatically impressionistic work–has more than enough challenges to demonstrate proficiency on your instrument. However, if a traditional “fast” movement is also required, the third movement is quite fiery. If the first movement proves too challenging, consider also Tailleferre’s Arabesque, a slightly easier, but lovely work that features a melody similar to that in the first movement of her Three Dances.

  5. Fantasy – Sarah Feigin
    1. Sarah Feigin’s single-movement Fantasy for clarinet and piano begins with a hauntingly beautiful melody. The second contrasting section features a lively melody and fast articulation. The whole piece, which lasts about 4 minutes in total, would be extremely fun to play for a committee.

And finally, remember that in an audition what matters most is that you are well-prepared and that you perform repertoire appropriate for your level. The best way to ensure that you have picked an appropriate piece and have learned it well is to study with a private teacher, for months if not years in advance of your audition.

Happy practicing and good luck!

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