Backofen's Second Clarinet Method, 1824

Facsimile Edition with English Translation

It is a rare gift to have the opportunity to read two clarinet methods by the same author, in this case separated by two decades of intensive change in instrument design and musical aesthetic. Backofen's first "Anweisung" dates from c.1803, and deals with the five-key Classical clarinet at a time when the great composers embraced it. Mozart, already dead for a decade, composed only for this instrument, and by 1800 Haydn had composed all of his symphonies and his great oratorios (The Creation and The Seasons), the latter replete with high-profile clarinet parts. Also, in 1803 Beethoven had just completed the "Eroica" Symphony.

The present method, from 1824, marks another milestone for Beethoven: the completion of his Ninth Symphony, at a time when all the woodwinds had evolved into multi-keyed instruments with larger tone holes, greater volume and evenness of sound, and increased flexibility. We read in Backofen the wise words of an experienced clarinet player who has witnessed all of these developments firsthand. His considerations and interests are no less than fascinating.
Eric Hoeprich

Translator's Preface
This is a parallel-text edition, the German original on the left and my English translation on the right. Pages containing only musical scores without text and needing little or no translation are printed with two pages of the original on each page showing here. (With some browsers it is necessary to expand this screen to the maximum extent possible on the desktop before downloading the complete text.) At the end, I have included detailed notes on the translation and two reviews of Backofen's performances, one glowingly positive and another by a bored, jaded listener. Both reviews appeared in the Allgemeine Musicalische Zeitung.
William McColl