Famous Clarinet Players

All-time Famous Clarinet Players, Solo, Orchestral Principals,
Jazz, Klezmer and World Clarinetists

From the 1930s to 1990s household names in the Famous Clarinet Player world were Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Woody Herman.  Honorable mention would probably go to Pete Fountain and Acker Bilk for their efforts.  The list you see below you with videos examples are those at the top of their game and are a masterclass of artistry and musicianship.

If you wish to improve your sound at almost a moments notice, listen to great clarinet players and watch how they do it.  Occasionally, they talk about it and give out a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.


Get your copy of Bumblebee Loops here (on Kindle it is next to nothing). Currently No. 26 Brass Instruments Music and No. 66 Woodwind Instrument Music.  See exercise videos in right column.

All-time Famous Clarinet Players - Goodman, Shaw and Herman

Famous Clarinet Players - Benny Goodman

Hum? Let's get a glimse of why these clarinetists lit the world on fire with clarinet "back in the day." Here is the Benny Goodman Orchestra playing Sing, Sing, Sing featuring Gene Krupa-Drums, Harry James-Trumpet from the film Hollywood Hotel from 1937.

The following method includes the music to Sing, Sing, Sing.

Product Cover look inside Benny Goodman Jazz Play-Along Volume 86. By Benny Goodman. Jazz Play Along. Play Along. Softcover with CD. 72 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.843110).

Famous Clarinet Players - Artie Shaw

Then you have Artie Shaw. Below is a video of Artie Shaw’s playing his Concerto for Clarinet. You'll see and hear his stature as a clarinetist, bandleader and entertainer from the 1940 film Second Chorus.

Product Cover look inside Artie Shaw's Jazz Technic, Book 1 Book 1. Scales & Exercises. Method/Instruction; Technique Musicianship; Woodwind - Clarinet Method or Collection. Swing and Technique. Clarinet instruction book. With standard notation and instructional text. 28 pages. Alfred Music #00-EL9506. Published by Alfred Music (AP.EL9506).
Product Cover look inside Artie Shaw's Jazz Technic, Book 2 Book 2. Fourteen Clarinet Etudes. Method/Instruction; Technique Musicianship; Woodwind - Clarinet Method or Collection. Swing and Instructional. Clarinet instruction book. With standard notation and instructional text. 16 pages. Alfred Music #00-EL9502. Published by Alfred Music (AP.EL9502).

This Eddie Daniels method has Shaw's signature tune in it: Begin the Beguine.

Product Cover look inside The Music of Eddie Daniels (Solo Transcriptions and Performing Artist Master Class) Clarinet. Composed by Eddie Daniels. Artist/Personality; Lead Sheet; Woodwind - Clarinet Method or Collection. Jazz and Hard Bop. Instrumental solo book. With standard notation. 80 pages. Alfred Music #00-0742B. Published by Alfred Music (AP.0742B).

Woody Herman & His Swingin' Herd - Woodchopper's Ball

Woody Herman clarinet, Carmen Leggio, Sal Nistico, Jackie Stevens tenor sax, Nick Brignola bars, Bill Chase, Danny Nolan, Paul Fontaine, Gerry Lamy, Billy Hunt trumpet, Phil Wilson, Henry Southall, Kenny Wenzel trombone, Nat Pierce piano, Chuck Andrus bass, Jake Hanna drums. Montréal, 1964

Famous Clarinet Players - Soloists

These top talents are soloing wide with major symphonies, cutting albums, and playing in the chamber music world

Famous Clarinet Players - Julian Bliss

Johannes Brahms, Sonata No.1 F Minor, Mvt 1- Julian Bliss, James Baillieu

Famous Clarinet Players - Martin Fröst

See and hear this amazing montage of Swedish clarinet virtuoso Martin Fröst. Charismatic and multi-talented, you’ll see him performing clarinet while rollerblading and articulating the Flight of the Bumble Bee.

Want to learn Flight of the Bumblebee? This is the book for you - Bumblebee Loops.

Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson (clarinet) plays Tico-Tico by Zequinha de Abreu

Sharon Kam

Brahms Clarinet Quintet Op 115, 1. Allegro

Sabine Meyer

Mozart: Clarinet Concerto / Sabine Meyer · Tomàs Grau · OCM · Palau de la Música Catalana

Famous Clarinet Players - Richard Stoltzman

Richard Stoltzman, Grammy-Award winning clarinetist, plays some music and talks about his experiences working with modern classical composers. The music he is playing on this clip is the Bach Chromatic Fantasy.

Product Cover look inside Aria For Clarinet and Piano. Composed by Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868), Ambroise Thomas (1811-1896), Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), Charles Francois Gounod (1818-1893), Georges Bizet (1838-1875), Jules Massenet (1842-1912), Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), Franz Lehar (1870-1948), George Gershwin (1898-1937), Ira Gershwin, Dorothy Heyward, and Du Bose Heyward. Edited by Richard Stoltzman Dan Fox. Arranged by Richard Stoltzman. Perfect-Å’ Hinge+SWS. Classical. Collection and set of performance parts. With performance notes. 183 pages. Carl Fischer Music #O5387. Published by Carl Fischer Music (CF.O5387).
Product Cover look inside Richard Stoltzman Songbook For Clarinet and Piano. Composed by Richard Stoltzman. Perfect/Insert-SWS. All Time Favorites. 20th Century, Jazz and Contemporary Instrumental. Piano/clarinet book (no lyrics, separate pull out part for clarinet). With introductory text and performance notes. 239 pages. Carl Fischer Music #ATF141. Published by Carl Fischer Music (CF.ATF141).

Famous Clarinet Players - Orchestral Principals

Below is a masterclass of clarinetistry - These performers are at the top of their game and the primo clarinetist of each major city.  Listen to their sound, fluidity, musicality, and ultimate control of the clarinet. Listening is key to gaining a great tone concept on your instrument, and hearing these performers give you true incite to the potential of the instrument.

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra co-principal clarinetists Wenzel Fuchs and Andreas Ottensamer

Wenzel Fuchs - Mozart Clarinet Concerto

Andreas Ottensamer - Stamitz: Clarinet Concerto No.7 in E Flat: 3. Rondeau

Boston Symphony Orchestra principal clarinetist William R. Hudgins

BSO NOW: Pathways of Romanticism | Episode 2

William R. Hudgins performing the Weber Concertino.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra principal clarinetist Stephen Williamson

CSO Principal Clarinet Stephen Williamson Plays Copland's Clarinet Concerto

Cleveland Symphony Orchestra principal clarinetist Afendi Yusuf

Afendi Yusuf | How Mozart Balances Joy & Suffering

Yevgeny Yehudin, Principal Clarinetist of the Israel Philharmonic

Yevgeny Yehudin about Weber's Clarinet Concerto no. 2

London Symphony Orchestra – co-principal clarinetists Chris Richards and Sérgio Pires

LSO Master Class - Clarinetist Chris Richards

Sérgio Pires - C. Nielsen - Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra

Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra principal clarinetist Boris Allakhverdyan

Claude Debussy - Première Rhapsodie. Boris Allakhverdyan, clarinet

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra principal clarinetist Jessica Phillips

Jessica Phillips on Legato and Finger Exercises

New York Philharmonic principal clarinetist Anthony McGill

Clarinet Sonata, Mvt 3 by Francis Poulenc performed by Anthony McGill, and Peter Dugan | Daily Joy

Orchestra di Santa Cecilia in Rome principal clarinetist Alessandro Carbonare

Rachmaninoff 2nd Symphony clarinet solo with Alessandro Carbonare on clarinet.

Philadelphia Orchestra principal clarinetist Ricardo Morales

Kovács Hommage á R Strauss / Ricardo Morales

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra principal clarinetist Calogero Palermo

Aaron Copland - Clarinet Concerto - Calogero Palermo - Klaus Mäkelä | Made in America

Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra co-principal clarinetists Alessandro Beverari and Chiaki Mangy

Sarasate/Baldeyrou - Carmen fantasy Alessandro Beverari

I had a hard time finding any video of Chiaki Mangy, so here is a link to her discography of VGMdb (the music of visual arts and games)

Vienna Philharmonic principal clarinetists Daniel Ottensamer

Philharmonix - Csárdás

Famous Clarinet Players - More Orchestral players

Alright, if you have made it this far on the famous clarinet player list, then you are really interested in the clarinet.  Above are the most up-to-date principal clarinetists that I could find (and musical chairs happen all of the time, so they can change). 

I wish I could post a separate video on all of these legendary orchestral principal clarinetists.  Some are gone and others are still teaching and performing: Daniel Bonade, Jack Brymer, Franklin Cohen, Larry Combs, Stanley Drucker, Ignatius N. Gennusa, Karl Leister, Richard Lesser, Robert Marcellus, Andrew Marinner, Ralph McClane, Jacques Meertens, Harold Wright, and Michele Zuckovsky.  


Famous Clarinet Players - Your Local Symphony or University

To find your local famous clarinetist, look up the website of your nearest symphony or university.  Certainly, they have posted videos or advertise concerts or chamber recitals.  This is a GREAT source to hear live music on clarinet and a BETTER source to find a local clarinet teacher.

Famous Clarinet Players - Jazz

Jazz - Don Byron, Evan Christopher, Anat Cohen, Eddie Daniels, Paquito D’Rivera, Doreen Ketchens and Ken Ken Peplowski

Don Byron - clarinetist and composer Don Byron on George Russell: A Bird in Igor’s Yard | Don Byron & NEC Jazz Orchestra.

Evan Christopher @ Jazz In Marciac 2014 (Farewell Blues)

Anat Cohen - alright, if you are thinking of looking into jazz clarinet, listen to Anat who has been voted the "Jazz Clarinet of the Year" by the Jazz Journalists Association every year since 2007. Yes, EVERY YEAR SINCE 2007.

Eddie Daniels, Clarinet, and the Ensemble Sans Frontière (String Quintet) playing an excerpt from Frank Proto’s String Quintet.

Paquito D’Rivera on clarinet below playing Tico Tico

Doreen Ketchens - House of the Rising Sun

Ken Peplowski - Transcription: Ken Peplowski's Solo on China Boy

This is too cool.  Not only is it Peplowski playing but both watch or play with the transcription on the video.

Legendary Jazz Clarinetists

Famous Clarinetists - Legendary Jazz Clarinetists - Sidney Bechet, Acker Bilk, Barney Bigard, Buddy DeFranco, Johnney Dodds, Pete Fountain, Jimmy Giuffre, Jimmy Hamilton, George Lewis, Jimmy Noone, Pee Wee Russell

Sidney Bechet – song Blue Horizon, Sidney Bechet and His Blue Note Jazzmen, December 30, 1944

Barney Bigard & His Jazzopators – Caravan

1936 - Cootie Williams (trumpet), Juan Tizol (trombone), Barney Bigard (clarinet), Harry Carney (bar), Duke Ellington (piano), Billy Taylor, Sr. (bass), and Sonny Greer (drums). Arrangement by Duke Ellington.

Acker Bilk - Stranger On The Shore

English jazz clarinetist - From the 80's Channel 4 show 'The Unforgettables'. Bernard Stanley "Acker" Bilk MBE is an English clarinetist who was born on the 28th January in 1929. He is famous for his style which includes the trademark goatee, a bowler hat and a striped waistcoat. His clarinet style is breathy with notes on the lower-register and is vibrato-rich. Stranger on the Shore reached No. 2 in the UK and No. 1 in the US in 1961. It was the theme tune for the BBC TV drama also called 'Stranger on the Shore'.

Acker Bilk Clarinet Quote

Yesterdays with Buddy DeFranco with Les Brown and his Band of Renown, "Aurex Jazz Festival", Sep.1,1983 at Budokan (Tokyo,Japan). Make sure you listen to this one all the way to the end. AWESOME!

You can find DeFranco’s transcription of Yesterday’s here…

Product Cover look inside The Buddy DeFranco Collection Clarinet. By Buddy Defranco. Artist Transcriptions. Jazz. 80 pages. Published by Hal Leonard (HL.672423).

Hear clarinetist Johnny Dodds in Chicago in 1928 with his usual gang - Natty Dominique and George Mitchell cornets, John Thomas on trombone, Charlie Alexander piano, Bud Scott banjo, and Baby Dodds drums.

Eric Dolphy bass clarinet

Here is a treat, try some Jazz Bass Clarinet by Dolphy.  This is one of Dolphy's last performances recorded in Oslo in March 1964

Dixieland Jazz New Orleans jazz man Pete Fountain playing Just a Closer Walk with Thee with Amazing Grace in the middle and a few bars of I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire.

Jimmy Giuffre - So Low

Jimmy HamiltonBlues for Clarinet

Jimmy Hamilton’ late 1954 album ‘Sweet But Hot’ album featuring: Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet), Clark Terry (trumpet), Barry Galbraith (guitar), Sidney Gross (guitar), Oscar Pettiford (bass), and Osie Johnson (drums).

George Lewis - Burgundy Street Blues

George Lewis, Joe Robichaux, Alcide Slow Drag Pavageau, Joe Watkins

Jimmie Noone Trio - I'm Going Home

Jimmie Noone Clarinet, Gedeon Honore Piano, John Simmons, Bass Ed Thomson Vocal.

Pee Wee Russell -1958

Also visible are Harry Shephard vibraphone, Sonny Greer drums, JC Higginbotham trombone, Willie "The Lion" Smith piano.

Famous Clarinet Players - Klezmer

Klezmer - Dave Tarras, Giora Feidman, Andy Statman and Janfie Van Strien 


(Congratulations, Bride and Groom) Jewish Wedding Song (Klezmer, Instrumental) with Abe Ellstein's Orchestra

Giora Feidman Best of Klezmer

The best of Giora Feidman KLezmer collection hits. Recorded at the 2012 Klezmer Festival in the Galilee, at Tsfat(Safed) Israel.  48 minutes of music on this video.

Andy Statman on clarinet

Janfie Van Strien 

Amsterdam Klezmer band featuring Janfie van Strien (clarinet) Tripping  by Theo van Tol.

Famous Clarinet Players - World

Bulgaria - Ivo Papazov and His Wedding Band. You need to check this out. Unbelievable playing and exciting...   

Greece - Expand your horizons and sound concept with this traditional Epirus Song by Greek Clarinetist Petroloukas Chalkias.

Macedonia - The famous clarinet player from Republic of Macedonia, Tale Ognenovski played the clarinet as a Macedonian folk instrument and became famous worldwide with his work.