Richard Stoltzman

Richard Stoltzman's virtuosity, musicianship and sheer personal magnetism have made him one of today's most sought-after concert artists. As soloist with over a hundred orchestras, a captivating recitalist, an innovative jazz artist, and a prolific recording artist, this two-time Grammy Award winner has defied categorization, dazzling critics and audiences alike throughout many musical genres. Stoltzman's unique way with the clarinet has earned him an international reputation as he has opened up possibilities for the instrument that no one could have predicted. He gave the first clarinet recitals at both the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall, and became the first wind player to receive the Avery Fisher Prize. He has performed or recorded with such jazz and pop greats as Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Judy Collins, Eddie Gomez, Woody Herman, Keith Jarrett, Mel Torme, and Spyro Gyra founder Jeremy Wall. His commitment to new music has resulted in numerous premieres, including acclaimed clarinet works by Steve Reich, Toru Takemitsu, Stephen Hartke and Einojuhani Rautavaara. Richard Stoltzman's discography numbers well over sixty recordings and he has won Grammy Awards for his recordings of the Brahms Sonatas with Richard Goode and Trios of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms with Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax.

Remembering Benny Goodman....

My first aural memory of Benny Goodman probably came from the many 78 recordings of swing bands which my dad loved to play in the evenings when I was a child in San Francisco. But it wasn't until my grandma took me to see the Benny Goodman Story at the Castro movie theater that I really put the sound together with the man and the legend and dreamed of one day playing the clarinet. Flash forward 30 years to the moment when the legend called me to come visit him, talk clarinets, and play duets. As I took the elevator to Benny Goodman's penthouse on the east side of Manhattan, my knees started to shake and I felt as though I was ascending to God. The childhood memories of my dad's records and going to the movies with my grandma filled my mind. The elevator opened to the door of his apartment and I nervously rang the bell. My whole life seemed to be building to this moment. The door opened, I looked up and was struck speechless. I was shocked to see another person! I struggled to regain reality. I suddenly realized I had been expecting to see Steve Allen, who played Benny in the movie. But the man who warmly invited me in was indeed the one and only, attired in silk smoking jacket and ascot. And then for a precious few hours the legend and I spoke of all the mundane things which every clarinet player ends up talking about: reeds, mouthpieces, and equipment. He wanted my opinion of a live recording he had made of the Max Reger Clarinet Quintet. And we read through the old Italian clarinet duets every kid growing up loves to play with a friend. His chauffer took us two blocks away to an east side deli for soup and sandwich. It all seemed like a dream, but people kept coming over to our table to make sure I realized with whom I was having lunch. Not Steve Allen. It was the king.


This link is for a short clip of last year's Le Poisson Rouge performance of Steve Reich's NEW YORK COUNTERPOINT. Enjoy!

Video of "Marika Groove"

Here is a link to a short video of "Marika Groove," which was premiered at our April 4 Weill Hall performance.

Goldberg Variations

Video from Guitarfest 2010 with Eliot Fisk

This is a link to my live video with Eliot Fisk from last year's Guitarfest (2010) at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall! It is a recording of the Beaser song, "Fair and Tender Ladies."

Simone Dinnerstein and Richard Stoltzman, March 2011

Simone Dinnerstein and Richard Stoltzman, March 2011

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What type of mouthpiece do you use?
I play on a mouthpiece made by Kalmen Opperman.

Q: What type of clarinet do you play?
My clarinets are Buffet R-13 clarinets (both A and B-flat). They have gold-plated keys and are worked on by Mr. Opperman.

Q: What reeds do you use?
Vandoren White Master reeds, size 3.

Q: What type of ligature do you use?
I play on a Buffet ligature, which was reworked for me by my teacher, Kalmen Opperman. I also use an M. Martin ligature which is very similar. When I'm testing out reeds, I use a Ratterree to save time.

Q: How much do you practice every day?
It would be difficult to know the exact number of hours every day, but I take the clarinet out when I wake up and come back to it all throughout the day.

Q: Where can we find your concert information?
In addition to this blog, you can check my website, Frank Salomon Associates' website (links are listed just to the right of these posts), or contact/friend me on FaceBook.

Q: When and why did you start using double lip embouchure?
I switched to double lip after hearing a recording of Schubert's Der Hirt Auf Dem Felsen for soprano, clarinet, and piano with Benita Valente, Harold Wright, and Rudolph Serkin. Wright's gorgeous legato and sublime homogeneous sound was so inspiring. I discovered that he used double lip embouchure. He suggested I work with Kalmen Opperman. Mr. Opperman basically tore my playing apart and rebuilt it again based on his philosophy of sound and understanding of technique.

I find double lip feels organic and natural for me. It allows for subtle variations in the amount of mouthpiece and reed inside of my mouth. It also seems to allow for greater variety in tone color.

Richard Stoltzman and Mika Yoshida rehearse at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall

Richard Stoltzman and Mika Yoshida rehearse at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall

Patrick Wilkins, composer

Check out two neat pieces for clarinet and piano by composer Patrick Wilkins! They are available as audio tracks at: . You can contact Mr. Wilkins to order the pieces at