In this episode of the Clarineat Podcast I’m joined by the legendary Stanley Drucker, who is of course the former principal clarinetist of The New York Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he held for over 60 years.
During his time with the orchestra, Stanley also maintained a busy schedule as a chamber musician and recitalist. He could, of course, be found performing at illustrious venues like Carnegie Hall, but you might be surprised to learn that he also performed quite often at venues such as churches and school auditoriums, places, of course, where you might not expect to find one of the world’s greatest musicians.
Today, our conversation focuses on this element of Stanley’s work, and most notably the release of an exciting new set of CDs called the “Heritage Collection.” This collection features live recordings at many different venues recorded over a 30 year span from the early 1970s to mid 2000s. Stanley is joined in performance on this set by world class chamber ensembles such as the Juilliard String Quartet and, of course, his wonderful wife Naomi Drucker who is an accomplished clarinetist in her own right. I’m thrilled to say that Naomi also joins me in conversation for part of today’s interview.
Special Clarineat Promotion
As a thank you for listening to the Clarineat Podcast you can get a once in a lifetime chance to receive a signed copy of the Heritage Collection and no additional cost. Click the button below for further details. (This offer available only for a limited time!)
Featured Musical Excerpts
- Louis Spohr, Potpourri, Op. 80
- Carl Maria von Weber, Quintet in B-flat Major, Op. 34
- László Weiner, Csáradás for Clarinet and Piano
- Claude Debussy, Première Rhapsodie
- Bernhard Crussel, Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 2, No. 1 for Clarinet and Strings
- Wolfgang Amadeus, Mozart, Divertimento No. 2 KV439b
- Alfred Printz, Discussion for two Clarinets
- Francis Poulenc, Sonata for Two Clarinets, Op. 2, No. 1
Part 1: Stanley Drucker
- About the Heritage Collection
- Making the time to perform
- Advice for young players: “never say no to anything”
- Do you prefer performing for large or small audiences?
- Studio vs. live recording
- Stories about Woody Allen and Leonard Bernstein
- Stanley’s formative years
- How orchestral auditions have changed over the years
- Dealing with your nerves
- Working with Leon Russianoff
- Favorite moments recording with the New York Philharmonic
- Working with Pierre Boulez, Leonard Bernstein, George Szell, and more
- Was there one conductor that you identified most with?
- If you recorded these pieces today what would you change?
- “If you’re lucky, lightning can strike”
- Why there’s no right and wrong in music
- What do you want to sound like? What do you like?
- How does one decide which recordings to listen to in this day and age?
- Finding your sound
- “The most important thing is to have something to say musically”
- “Love music, and love clarinet”
Part 2: Naomi Drucker
- Working with Leon Russianoff and others
- Learning music with her father at 12 years
- “What a happier way could you learn to play?”
- “It was always fun” with Russianoff
- What is it like playing music within the dynamic of marriage?
- Story from Japan: “Who plays better, you or your husband?”
- What do you like to instil in your students?
- Thoughts from Producer Jerome Bunke (who will be featured on the next episode of the podcast)
About Stanley Drucker
At the conclusion of the 2008-2009 Season, New York Philharmonic Principal Clarinet Stanley Drucker celebrated 60 years as a member of the Orchestra. In honor of this milestone anniversary, he became an honorary member of the Philharmonic Society of New York, the first orchestral musician so honored.
The Philharmonic estimates that he has performed in 10,200 concerts, which is approximately 70% of the total number of their concerts since 1842. He has been Principal Clarinetist for a record 48 years, playing under 9 Music Directors, among them Bruno Walter, Dmitri Mitropolous, Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez and Zubin Mehta. He has performed in 60 countries on tour.
Mr. Drucker began clarinet studies at age ten with Leon Russianoff, his principal teacher, and later attended the High School of Music and Art and the Curtis Institute of Music. He was appointed Principal Clarinetist of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra at age 16, the Adolf Busch Chamber Players at age 17, and the Buffalo Philharmonic at age 18. He has the distinction of being one of the few living orchestral musicians whose biography appears in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.