Monday, November 01, 2010

None at All:

In 1961 I played first bassoon in a pretty good amateur orchestra in Manhattan. The first clarinettist was a much older guy. I don't remember his name, but I shall do my best to make him memorable to you.

The first clarinettist and first bassoonist usually sit side by side. Some clarinettists, mostly beginners, have an unpleasant edge in their clarinet sound that drives me crazy. It's obvious that this sound does not bother everyone. This clarinettist had that sound in his instrument, and although I liked him, his tone was often difficult to bear.

I talked to my father about my friends in this orchestra. (Another friend was the violist who was horrified when I guessed that the name of his girlfriend was Beverly Milkman.) My father recognized the clarinettist's name. “We went to college together. He was a Senior when I was a Freshman.”

Dad went on to tell the story of how they met. He had been in a Music Appreciation course, and on one occasion, the first chairs of the wind section, a flutist, an oboist, this clarinettist and a bassoonist, had come to demonstrate their instruments. Each one, in turn, played some famous, dramatic solo from the classical music literature. When it was the clarinettist's turn, he played a lewd song known to all in the class, not really Safe for Work, and everyone burst out laughing.

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