Second Concerto for Clarinet

From Wind Repertory Project
Carl Maria von Weber

Carl Maria von Weber (arr. T. Conway Brown)

This work bears the designation Opus 74.

General Info

Year: 1811 / 1949 / 1968
Duration: c. 23:00
Difficulty: VII / (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts – Out of print.

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


1. Allegro – 9:30
2. Andante con Moto "Romanza" – 6:25
2. Alla Polacca – 7:15


Condensed Score
C Piccolo/Flute
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet Solo-I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone and Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Cornet I-II
B-flat Trumpet
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Drums, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Clarinet Concerto No. 2, Op. 74 (1811) is described as the more symphonic of the two Weber concerti. It is one of the most important pieces in the repertory after Mozart’s classic work, written just twenty years earlier, and remains one of the most dazzling for sheer virtuosic effects. The first performance of the Concerto No. 2, which was given in Munich on November 25, 1811, was received “with frantic applause,” as Weber noted in his diary. This enthusiastic reception was “due to Bärmann's divine playing.”

Among the special features of this concerto are the many dramatic contrasts between the instrument's brilliant high notes and the dark, rich sonority of the lower range. Weber fully exploits the soloist’s ease in playing fluent scales and in shifting from the very highest to very lowest notes. The soloist’s opening flourish, for example, plunges three full octaves, then rebounds nearly the same distance.

The first movement is laid out more or less in standard sonata-allegro form, though Weber adds a few idiosyncrasies of his own to the formula. The first theme has that martial air of which Weber was so fond, while the second suggests a Rossinian tune, reminding us just how close Weber was to the stage all his life, and that his best-known works today are operatic overtures (Der Freischütz, Oberon, Euryanthe, etc.). The finale is in rondo form, which concerto-writers of the period often used. Weber sets it as a Pollaca with its characteristic rhythm of the Polonaise, a Polish dance. This movement makes spectacular demands on the soloist. Leaving aside problems of embouchure and breath control and ignoring the need to hit the right keys, imagine hitting any keys that fast for that long, and you have a small idea of the difficulty of that piece. The main theme is highly effective, due largely to its use of syncopation. The exhilarating coda is, in the words of John Warrack, enough to “burn the fingers of most clarinetists.”

- Program notes from the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Robert Markow

German Romantic composer Carl Maria von Weber exerted his most lasting influence in the genre of opera, where his seminal work Der Freischütz reestablished a uniquely German style in an Italian-dominated era. Yet Weber’s success in opera came late in life; he supported himself through his early years performing as a pianist and writing music for publishers and virtuoso performers. A particularly fruitful collaboration evolved with clarinetist Heinrich Baermann, for whom Weber published two concertos, a concertino, and a set of variations in 1811 alone. Weber’s later contributions to the clarinet literature included a quintet and the Grand Duo, making him a significant figure in the development of the clarinet as a serious solo instrument.

The Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E-flat is described as the more symphonic of Weber’s two concertos for the instrument. It fully exploits the expressive range of the clarinet, from dark Romanticism to virtuosic fireworks, and moves through the entire tessitura of the instrument, exploring both the rich, deep register and the piercing upper range. The three-movement work includes an Allegro and a Romanze, in addition to the lively Polacca . In this final movement, Weber uses rather large leaps to embellish the clarinet melody, which is usually made up of flashy, sparkling rhythms. The melody is often dotted and syncopated to give a somewhat cheeky character to the music. The work finishes with one of the most glittery, virtuosic passages in the clarinet repertoire, and it is appropriately marked “brillante.”

- Program Note from U.S. Marine Band concert program, 12 June 2019

The second and third movements are the more frequently performed portions of this concerto. The second movement, Romanza, is chiefly a test of sustain, expressive playing, although the middle section contains both animation and recitative. The concluding Polacca is a sparkling rondo with Polish dance rhythms. It is carefully constructed and a well-varied concerto for clarinet and band.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer