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History of the Clarinet

Johann Christoph Denner (1655 -) invented the clarinet.


Clarinetists and bassoonists performing in orchestra, side view
Michael Blann/ Iconica/ Getty Images
Invented around 1690, the clarinet is a single-reed woodwind instrument with a cylindrical tube. The clarinet evolved from an earlier instrument called the chalumeau, the first true single reed instrument.

Johann Christoph Denner of Nuremburg with the help of his son Jacob improved the chalumeau, creating a new instrument called the clarinet. Denner added two keys to the chalumeau and increased that instruments range by over two octaves. He also created a better mouthpiece and improved the bell (end) of the instrument.

In 1843, the clarinet was further improved when Klose adapted the Boehm flute key system to the clarinet. Mozart was the first composer to use the clarinet in a symphony.

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