Books to read and sheet notes to play

Literatur falls into two categories: Books to read and notes (sheet music) to play or exercise. If you have read some of my pages you know that this is a project being internationalized from an originally German web page. I do know less of international or English literature than of German, and therefore ask you to tell me, whether you have some experience with books - then do mail me, please!. I will publish that right away.

Notes for playing / exercising

Since you find a list of the most famous compositions in the composers' chapter they are not listed here again; this wouldn't help much anyway because the publishers might vary from country to country.

Notes for clarinet with symphony orchestra (like the famous concertos) come as a set and are usually quite expensive. You might want to look for versions that have been "downsized" to clarinet accompanied by an arranged piano score. Sometimes the pieces are available with the clarinet voice only. But you may as well find the more popular works in libraries (some local libraries are connected and store notes centrally), usually the libraries of music schools and universities have got them. Then there are internet shops that give you the notes for free as long as you don't perform the piece publicly.

Download classical sheet music for free on the internet?

Yes, you can! Even if the collection is not complete at the moment and not always in super resolution - but enough to print out a score or a part and of course enough to make a whole industry nervous. You can find it here:, the Petrucci International Music Library.

Petrucci is a database in Canada, strictly legal under Canadian (and European) law, of course - and that's why you can only find music by composers who have been dead for a long time (in Germany: over 70 years, in Canada: 50), or who have explicitly placed their works in the public domain. This means, for example, that George Gershwin, who died in 1937, would be in the public domain. Apparently, however, there is a dispute about this (different laws apply in the USA as opposed to most of the other countries), and so Gershwin's sheet music is temporarily blocked. But Mozart and Weber, for example, are there completely.

Noteworthy: some of the pieces can even be heard in their entirety as MP3 recordings. But access may be illegal in some countries where it is possible to sell your creator's rights to a publisher completely and forever (USA). In nearly all other countries the the right to play music cannot be acquired forever because it remains with the composer, and becomes public domain after their death.

Copying: What to consider

National legislation differs from country to country: Some countries prohibit copying under all circumstances, some tolerate it for strictly private use, others let you copy notes but may check that you own the original the moment you perform a piece in public, as long as the composer is alive and up to 50 or 70 years after his or her death. Then the work of art becomes public domain. That is how it is done in most countries. Especially when you use notes from a library you should make copies for your concerts, because they wouldn't like you to make marks into the notes with a pencil...

Only if you keep that copy after giving the original back it is definitely an illegal act under European law. You better check your national legislation here. If you were caught playing pieces from copies and can't produce the original, you might be sentenced to hefty fines. Depending on the country you are caught in the fine goes either to the artist, or to the publisher's law firm ;-)

Student books for learning to play

There are many clarinet learning books. I myself have learnt to play using the traditional German student's Book "Baermann-Schule". It exists in english versions. Whether it is a good idea to go through the lessons from a to z can be discussed, but many Germans have learnt to play this way, usually with a teacher by their side.

Bool by Carl Baermann

Carl Baermann (1811 - 1885):
Clarinet School Volume 1 and 2


Exercising for the more experienced player - there I recommend something like Uhl - Etüden. They are more difficult, but sound good (so no worries with your neighbors). And they keep you really fit.

When browsing your local music store or an online shop, you will find many similar books.

Books to read

If there is only one book on the clarinet you should have read, then this is it: Jack Brymer's Clarinet. Not for the very beginner, its 260 pages cover all an experienced clarinet player should know about his instrument, in good to read chapters. If you are serious about clarinet playing, it is a must-read.