‘The Uttermost Perfection of All Wind Instruments’: Franz Tausch (1762–1817) as Virtuoso Clarinettist and Director of The Conservatorium Der Bläseinstrumente in Berlin

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The life of clarinettist Franz Tausch (1762–1817) spanned a formative period of development both for his instrument and the culture he operated within, yet he has been neglected because of his lack of association with a major composer. Tausch received his musical education at the Mannheim and Munich courts, where he was exposed to broad cultural and musical influences. His compositions for clarinet show his playing to have foreshadowed the virtuosity associated with his pupils Heinrich Baermann and Bernhard Henrik Crusell. This can particularly be seen in his exploitation of the new possibilities afforded by instruments with a fully chromatic bottom octave, as well as in his incorporation of extreme high-register writing in his concertos. Tausch’s transition from a life of court service to successfully establishing himself within the diverse musical culture and social hierarchy of Berlin is documented in the changing nature of his compositions as well as contemporary written sources. His life is a case study of a trajectory typical of many musicians working at the end of the eighteenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238–269
Number of pages32
JournalMusic & Letters
Issue number2
Early online date26 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) (2020). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. Copyright: Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Franz Tausch
  • Clarinet
  • Composer

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