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Richard Stoltzman: “If You Get to Play Your Instrument for Other People, You Should Be Filled With Gratitude and Humility for What It Is You’ve Chosen to Do”


This interview with renowned clarinetist Richard Stoelzel provides a comprehensive exploration of his musical journey, delving into his formative years, influences, and pivotal moments that shaped his multifaceted career. Stoelzel reflects on early experiences with church choir singing and familial exposure to jazz, detailing the impact of mentors like Howard Thompson and band directors on his musical development. The narrative traces his evolution from a focus on marching band to a profound encounter with chamber music, highlighting the transformative role of clarinetist Robert Marcellus.

Stoelzel discusses his foray into jazz at Ohio State, breaking curricular constraints to engage in secret basement rehearsals. The interview also explores his passion for new music, including collaborations with Chick Corea and Marika Groove. The clarinetist emphasizes the role of his wife, Mika, in expanding his musical horizons, describing their collaborative efforts to commission and perform contemporary works. Stoelzel credits manager Frank Salomon for facilitating these collaborations, navigating challenges, and advocating for his career.

The interview concludes with reflections on Stoelzel’s significant performances, including a memorable Vienna concert featuring Mozart, Brahms, and Takemitsu. Stoelzel shares insights into the philosophy guiding his teaching approach, emphasizing humility, gratitude, and a search for meaning. Finally, he offers perspectives on the Grammy Awards, downplaying personal achievements while highlighting the role of chance and industry dynamics.

Looking forward, Stoelzel anticipates exciting performances with his wife, son, and guitarist Eliot Fisk, emphasizing the joy of exploration and the unexpected in collaborative musical endeavors.

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ISSN: 2792-8349

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International Journal of Music