Born Richard Leslie Stoltzman, July 12, 1942 in Omaha, NE; son of Leslie Harvey Stoltzman (worked for the Western Pacific Railroad) and Dorothy Marilyn Spohn; married Lucy Jean Chapman (violinist), June 6, 1976; children: Peter, John, Margaret, Anne. Education: Ohio State University: B.A. mathematics, music; Teachers College of Columbia University: M.A. music, PhD Yale University. Addresses: Home--6 Lincolnshire Way, Winchester, MA 01890-3048; Office-- 201 W. 54th Street, Apt. 4C, NY, NY 10019-5521; Record company--BMG/RCA Victor, 1133 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036 Phone: (212) 930-4000.

Clarinetist and two-time Grammy Award winner Richard Stoltzman defied categorization and dazzled critics and audiences with his masterful performances in all genres of music. He worked as a soloist with more than a hundred orchestras, as a recitalist and chamber music performer, as an innovative jazz artist, and as an exclusive RCA recording artist. Stoltzman earned an international reputation as a clarinetist who opened up unforeseen possibilities for the instrument, expanding the musical envelope for all musicians in the process. In 1986, he was the first wind player to be awarded the Avery Fisher Prize, and he delivered the first clarinet recital in the history of both the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall. He has performed with jazz masters such as Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez, Keith Jarrett, George Shearing, Wayne Shorter, and Mel Torme. His discography numbers nearly 40 releases, and he was a founding member of the noted ensemble TASHI, which made its debut in 1973. Stoltzman is noted for his double lip embouchure, wide vibrato, and ability to mimic the sound of a human voice on his clarinet. He combines traditional and contemporary classical and jazz material with his own unorthodox style, and the result is a constant forging of new musical territory.

Richard Leslie Stoltzman was born on July 12, 1942 in Omaha, Nebraska, to Leslie Harvey Stoltzman and Dorothy Marilyn Spohn. Stoltzman's father worked for the Western Pacific Railroad and soon moved his family to San Francisco, California after Richard was born. Stoltzman's first exposure to music came through his father, an avid fan of big band music. Stoltzman's father played the big band music of the 1940s at home on the radio and performed in a dance band during his spare time. Stoltzman began studying the clarinet at the age of eight with a teacher at a local school, and he began playing with his father in the Stewart Memorial United Presbyterian Sunday School Orchestra and at community functions within a few years. When Stoltzman was in junior high school, he began developing the jazz techniques of improvisation and he enjoyed jamming with his father at home. Benny Goodman was his earliest musical mentor, and remained a strong influence throughout his career.

Stoltzman told Allan Kozinn of the New York Times , "(When) I was seven years old ... I found these wonderful cylindrical objects in a nice leather case. I enjoyed playing with them ... and I vaguely remember dangling them from the second-story window of our house. That caused quite a stir, because they turned out to be my father's clarinets. But instead of punishing me, he decided that I had an interest in the instrument and rented an indestructible metal clarinet for me to start on." His family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and Stoltzman continued studying the clarinet in high school but was rejected when he applied for scholarships at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and the Jullliard School in New York City. He went to Ohio State University in 1960 and majored in mathematics and music. He also played Sousa marches in the school's concert band and Dixieland jazz at a local tavern.

Discovered Classical Music in College

Stoltzman was introduced to classical music at Ohio State University, and told an interviewer for Symphony Magazine, "Someone gave me a ticket to a concert by the Julliard Quartet. They played the Lyric Suite of Alban Berg, and I was so knocked out. I didn't know there was music like that ... played with such intensity and precision and emotion. That's when I realized that it wasn't enough to play jazz or just enjoy music. You had to give blood." Dentistry had been a possible career choice for Stoltzman, but a series of lessons with Cleveland Orchestra clarinetist Robert Marcellus prompted him to choose graduate work in music instead. He entered Yale in 1964 with a graduate scholarship in music and studied with Keith Wilson. He told Robert Stock of the New York Times that his formal introduction to chamber music was hearing the Brahms clarinet quintet, and by the time he graduated in 1967, his passion for jazz had been replaced by classical music.

In an interview with Annalyn Swan of Time magazine, Stoltzman said, "Not only did I come to feel that music was essential to life, but I was surrounded by people who tried to play like a voice singing, something neglected by clarinetists." He set out to broaden the range of timbre and tonal color available to the clarinet, and to draw them closer to the sonorities of stringed instruments. He auditioned twice for the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont while at Yale, and was turned down both times. Then, he began work on his doctorate at Teachers College of Columbia University in 1967 and studied with Kalman Opperman, who helped him gain insight into some of his shortcomings as a clarinetist. Stoltzman told Swan, "One of the first things he [Opperman] told me was that I moved my fingers like a country bumpkin--and I already had a master's degree from Yale." Opperman changed a lot of things in the way Stoltzman played, and with renewed confidence, Stoltzman auditioned again for the Marlboro Music Festival and was accepted. He stayed at the festival for ten years, where he was given the freedom to explore music in every dimension.

Forged a Difficult Career Path

The Marlboro experience granted an opportunity for Stoltzman to study with world-class figures such as Harold Wright, Rudolf Serkin, Marcel Moyse, and Pablo Casals. Stoltzman told Symphony magazine that when Casals beckoned him over to his chair one night after a performance and said, "You are an artist," it was a pivotal moment for him--he knew he had something special and that he also had a responsibility to develop further. Stoltzman joined the newly-established California Institute of Arts in 1970, and remained there for six years. He tried auditioning for orchestras, but his fiercely distinctive playing, musical risk-taking, and propensity to experiment were stumbling blocks, and he was turned down after each audition. He decided to forge a career as a solo clarinet recitalist, but had to overcome the limitations of the instrument itself: The clarinet is generally considered too reedy and nasal to be played solo for a great length of time. He persevered and did overcome its limitations. Stoltzman began playing informally with violinist Ida Kavafian, cellist Bill Sherry, and pianist and composer Bill Douglas in 1973 at the New School for Social Research in New York City. The four players took the name Tashi, which is Tibetan for "good fortune." Tashi was formed for one concert, but they were so well received that they continued performing and recording as a group.

The Messaien Quartet for the end of Time became Tashi's first recording on the RCA label in 1973, and they followed the release with more traditional chamber music works by Beethoven, Stravinsky, and Mozart. Among the composers who have written material specifically for Tashi are Toru Takemitsu, Bill Douglas, Peter Lieberson, William Thomas McKinley, and Charles Wuorinen. Stoltzman made his debut as a solo recitalist in New York in 1974, and he made his recording debut the same year with the release of A Gift of Music for Clarinet for the Orion label. Whether playing solo or with an orchestra, Stoltzman does not add new notes to existing compositions, but instead reshapes the dynamics of the score.

Stoltzman won the Martha Baird Rockefeller Award in 1973. Shortly after, he met his future wife, violinist Lucy Jean Chapman. Chapman was one of numerous musicians attracted to Tashi, entered the group, and married Stoltzman in 1976. The couple formed part of the quartet's floating membership whenever their separate careers permitted it. Stoltzman became a fixture at the Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival beginning in the late 1970s, and he often performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony, and the orchestras of Atlanta and Louisville. His overseas bookings took him to Britain, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, and Austria. Stoltzman won the Avery Fisher Recital Award in 1977 and debuted at La Scala in Milan, Italy, in 1981. He was the first person to perform a solo clarinet recital at Carnegie Hall in 1982, and won the Avery Fisher Prize in 1986; he was the first wind player to win the honor. He also garnered Grammy Awards in 1982 for Brahms: The Sonatas for Clarinet, Opus 120 , with Richard Goode an another in 1996. Throughout his career, Stoltzman successfully circumvented the constrictions of the traditional clarinet repertoire and broke new musical ground.

by B. Kimberly Taylor

Richard Stoltzman's Career

Began studying the clarinet at the age of eight; accepted at the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, 1967; stayed at the festival for ten years; joined the California Institute of Arts, 1970; began playing informally with violinist Ida Kavafian, cellist Bill Sherry, and pianist/composer Bill Douglas, 1973 at the New School for Social Research in New York City; quartet named Tashi; first recording and performance as a group; The Messaien Quartet for the End of Time, RCA,.1973; soloist debut, New York, 1974; recording debut A Gift of Music for Clarinet, 1974; became a fixture at the Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival beginning in the late 1970s; performed often with the New York Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony, and the orchestras of Atlanta and Louisville; overseas bookings in Britain, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, and Austria; debuted at La Scala in Milan, Italy, 1981; first person to perform a solo clarinet recital at Carnegie Hall in 1982; performed with jazz greats such as Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez, Keigh Jarrett, George Shearing, Wayne Shorter, and Mel Torme.

Richard Stoltzman's Awards

Martha Baird Rockefeller Award in 1973, Avery Fisher Recital Award in 1977, Avery Fisher Prize in 1986, Grammy Awards in 198 and 1996.

Famous Works

Further Reading

Sources

PeriodicalsOnline

Visitor Comments Add a comment…

over 6 years ago

i think that his life is very full of excitement i am a 14 yr old clairnetist and i never thiught you could become famous on a clairnet i am inspired and i want to become famous like richard lol:)