Listening Through Time

featuring Stanley Drucker (Clarinet)



This episode of Listening Through Time features the New York Philharmonic’s former Principal Clarinet Stanley Drucker in conversation with the Orchestra’s Archivist / Historian Barbara Haws, considering how clarinet performance practices and interpretations have changed and remained the same over the decades. Works discussed include Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Debussy’s Rhapsody for Clarinet and Orchestra, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Mahler. Clarinet players discussed are Simeon Bellison, Alexander Williams, Robert McGinnis, Henri Leroy, and Benny Goodman.

Recorded August 4, 2017. Conceived by Barbara Haws. Inspired by Sony Classical's New York Philharmonic 175th Anniversary box set with recordings from 1917 to 1995. Recorded by Ian Good. Edited by Charles Van Tassel. © 2017 New York Philharmonic.


Stanley Drucker and Barbara Haws, deep in discussion


About Stanley Drucker

It is safe to say that clarinetist Stanley Drucker has achieved rare prominence for an orchestral musician. He rose rapidly from prodigy to the uppermost echelon, remaining at the top for more than six decades in New York City, one of the world’s most visible cultural capitals.

Born in Brooklyn, Stanley received a clarinet for his tenth birthday and, with the support of his primary teacher, Leon Russianoff, left the High School of Music and Art to attend the Curtis Institute of Music at the age of 15. He didn’t stay there long, though, winning the position of principal clarinet of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra at age 16. After serving as principal clarinet of the Adolf Busch Chamber Players at age 17 and the Buffalo Philharmonic at age 18, he closed the door on the peripatetic period of his career when he joined the New York Philharmonic as Assistant Principal and E-flat Clarinet in 1948. At age 19, he was the Orchestra’s youngest member and was often called “junior” by his colleagues. Twelve years later he was appointed Principal Clarinet, a position he would hold for nearly half a century until his retirement in 2009.

Outside of all his Philharmonic appearances, Mr. Drucker has pursued a variety of other activities: performing with orchestras worldwide, premiering works by a wide range of composers, making recordings, collaborating with a starry list of artists that includes Beverly Sills, Yehudi Menuhin, and Dudley Moore, and even finding time to explore the northeast shores on his boat.

To recognize his 60 years of outstanding service to the Philharmonic — performing in more than 10,200 concerts and as soloist 191 times — Stanley Drucker was made an Honorary Member of the Philharmonic, an honor bestowed on fewer than 75 artists since the Orchestra’s first concert in 1842.

As Mr. Drucker, himself, says: “Thanks for listening — and keep listening.”


Stanley Drucker in the New York Philharmonic


Stanley Drucker in Seoul, South Korea. 2002


Taping a Young People's Concert with Leonard Bernstein in Manchester, England. 1963


Dinner in Caracas, Venezuela. Drucker is second from the left. 1958 Latin American Tour


From left to right: Leonard Schaller, Stanley Drucker, and Napoleon Cerminara in rehearsal. Late 1940s–early 1950s


The woodwinds and brass. Early 1960s


Stanley Drucker teaching a master class at All-City High School. 1960s


In concert. 1968 Tour of Europe and Israel


The woodwinds in concert in Sydney, Australia. 1974 Pacific Tour of New Zealand, Australia, and Japan


Mockup of the March 1982 Stagebill page featuring the reeds


Rehearsal for Horizons 1983, Stanley Drucker at right. June 10, 1983


Close-up of Stanley Drucker in concert. 2000s


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