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Lorenzo Coppola
historical clarinet


To deepen knowledge of a musical style - in the case of the ancient clarinet, the late Baroque and especially the Classical - starting with the sonorities of the instruments that that style contributed to forming, through a didactic path that simultaneously illustrates the historical perspective, technical and organological problems, and interpretation with historical criteria.


What I am proposing, through the study of the ancient clarinet, is a journey of knowledge of a musical system through the problems related to the performance of the works that saw the light of day in that system, which is now distant from us. Moreover, what personally animates me most, and what I consider useful to convey, is the interest in the broadest possible research on music-making.


From the organological and acoustic knowledge of an antique instrument comes a series of acquisitions regarding intonation, diapason and temperament, as well as an aesthetics of phrasing and sound proper to the style in question. 


For example, the homogeneity of an instrument's range was generally not given an absolute aesthetic value. On the contrary, composers often made expressive use of the 'deafest' notes of the instrument. 


Nor could it be otherwise: the limit, accepted and exploited for expressive purposes, is often essential to clarify the author's intention. 


Knowledge of the sources (treatises, methods, epistolary letters, concert reports) provides valuable information on the stylistic canons operating in the performing style at the time. 


To the traditional idea of the wind instrument imitating the human voice, is added in the classical period the need to make the articulation of musical discourse, increasingly modelled on the example of the spoken word, particularly intelligible. The clarity of articulation at every level of speech (aside, phrase, period) becomes the indispensable element in the interpretation of a piece.


Ancient instruments allow naturally clear and light articulation. Knowing and listening to them could, moreover, be a valuable aid for those who wish to enrich their phrasing on the modern instrument.


  • The history of simple reed instruments from their origins to the mid-19th century, set in the historical context and cultural life of the time.

  • Instrument makers, virtuosi and composers: relationships and mutual influences.

  • Technical and performance evolution (beaks and reed position, articulation, number of keys, fingerings) also compared to that of other instruments.

  • Self-sufficiency in the care and repair of one's own instrument

  • Technique: approach to historical simple reeds, breathing, mouthpiece, flexibility in controlling intonation and articulation

  • Articulation of lip, throat, chest, diaphragm, tongue

  • Different tongue articulations

  • Musical notation of the different eras: learning to decipher and create one's own edition of a manuscript.

  • Studying the repertoire: manuscripts, first editions, finding reliable texts

  • Analysis of multiple tuning forks (church, chamber, etc.) and their historical and geographical variations: what the period instrument can tell us about them

  • Tuning systems: historical overview of temperaments (Pythagorean, mesotonic, "well-tempered" systems, equable), the harmonic series and natural tuning.

  • Reading, analysis and comparison of sources: methods, treatises, repertoire, historical testimonies, articles and essays.

  • In-depth study of 18th/19th century musical notation through the analysis of the most significant treatises : music theory, embellishments, metrics, inegalité, articulations, agogics, dynamics, phrasing.

  • Interpretation : the original instrument as an aid to understanding the musical text.

  • From baroque to classical style: towards a musical dramaturgy without words.

  • Formal and harmonic analysis of classical compositions

  • Analysis of mutual influences between style, performance techniques and evolution of instruments

  • The national schools

  • Embellishments and ornamentation in accordance with the formal requirements of the style in question

  • Elaboration of cadences and eingänge


From 1991 to 1995 he was a student of Eric Hoeprich in the historical clarinet class at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague in the Netherlands.

He has collaborated with groups and musicians specialising in the performance of baroque and classical music with original instruments, including : Les Arts Florissants (W. Christie),La Petite Bande(S. Kuijken), 18th Century Orchestra (F. Brüggen), Freiburger Barockorchester (G. von der Goltz),La Grande Ecurieetla Chambredu Roy (J.C. Malgoire), Libera Classica (H. Suzuki), Bach Collegium Japan (M. Suzuki).

He performs chamber music with groups such as: Kuijken Quartet (S. Kuijken), Ensemble Zefiro (A. Bernardini), Manon Quartett (A. Daskalakis), L'arte dell'arco (H.Suzuki), Quatuor Terpsycordes(G.Bottiglieri), Sergiu Luca (Context), Isabelle Faust.

Since 2004 he has been teaching historical clarinet, chamber music at the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya in Barcelona. His experience with the Freiburger Barockorchester (a conductor-less orchestra specialising in classical and early Romantic repertoire) has led him to be frequently requested to participate in meetings of youth orchestras and chamber groups, where he shares with students historical codes and strategies for conductor-less rehearsals and concerts.

He has recorded some significant works of Mozart's repertoire with clarinet (Serenades KV 375&388, Gran Partita KV 370a, Quintet KV 581 for clarinet and strings, Divertimenti KV 439b for three basset horns, Concerto KV622) in collaboration with Ensemble Zefiro, Ensemble Philidor, Quartetto Kuijken, Freiburger Barockorchester for record companies such as: Harmonia Mundi, Callyope, Astrée-Auvidis, Challenge.

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