The basset clarinet


 The basset clarinet is a member of the clarinet family similar to the usual soprano clarinet but longer and with additional keys to enable playing several additional lower notes. Typically, a basset clarinet has keywork going to a low (written) C or B, as opposed to the standard clarinet’s E or E♭ . Here are some interesting facts about the basset clarinet:

  1. History: The earliest surviving instruments in Paris and London museums date from 1770. The basset clarinet was most notably associated with the clarinet virtuoso Anton Stadler (1753–1812), a contemporary and good friend of Mozart. The instrument used by Stadler was invented and built by the Vienna K.K. court instrument maker Theodor Lotz around 1788. It has long been unclear how this instrument might have looked. In a library in Riga in 1992, programs were found of concerts which Anton Stadler played there in 1794. Two of those programs show an engraving of Stadler’s instrument .

  2. Unique Features: The basset clarinet has keywork that extends to a low C or B, allowing it to play several additional lower notes than the standard clarinet. The basset clarinet is most commonly a transposing instrument in A, although basset clarinets in C and B♭ and very seldom in G also exist 1.

  3. Educational and Professional: The basset clarinet is categorized into three levels: student, intermediate, and professional. Student clarinets are usually made of plastic or a composite of rubber and plastic, while intermediate and professional clarinets will usually feature wooden or rubber materials that mimic wood clarinet tones. Wooden clarinets are the best if you want a rich sound from the instrument, so the professional clarinet wins in this category. Clarinet keys are plated with one of two metals: silver or nickel, with a few clarinets featuring Hamilton plating, which is a blend of silver and gold. Each metal type has its benefits and drawbacks and will be more common in some clarinet types over others 2.

  4. Usage: The basset clarinet is most commonly used in classical music. Mozart wrote his Clarinet Quintet in A major, K.581 and Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K.622 for this instrument; the concerto is partly based on an earlier fragment of a Concerto for Basset Horn in G, K.584b. In his last opera La clemenza di Tito, Mozart assigned a basset clarinet in B♭ in the aria Parto parto, ma tu ben mio, meco ritorna in pace by Sesto (mezzo-soprano) an outstanding solo role in an approximately 8-minute dialogue with the singer, the musical climax of this act, if not the whole opera 1.

  5. Special Things: The basset clarinet family is comprised of a number of similar instruments. It includes the clarinet d’amore, the basset horn, the alto clarinet, and the contra-alto/contrabass clarinet. The basset clarinet is also used in jazz and film music. The basset clarinet is most notably associated with the clarinet virtuoso Anton Stadler (1753 – 1812), who was a good friend of Mozart. In fact, Mozart wrote his famous Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K.622 for this instrument 1.

  6. Songs and Lyrics: There are many songs that feature the basset clarinet. Some of the most famous basset clarinet pieces include Georg Abraham Schneider’s two concertos (Op. 90 and op. 105) for Müller’s instrument and orchestra 1. Free sheet music for basset clarinet is available on websites such as and