Death of a much-recorded principal clarinet, 95

Death of a much-recorded principal clarinet, 95


norman lebrecht

November 21, 2017

We have been notified of the death of Raymond Carpenter, principal clarinet of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra from 1953 to his retirement in 1987.

He can be heard on recordings with its chief conductors Rudolf Schwarz, Sir Charles Groves, Constantin Silvestri, Paavo Berglund, Uri Segal and Rudolf Barshai.

On joining the orchestra, Raymond married one of the violinists, Cynthia Mitchell; they had five children.

Metamorphosis: The Transformation of the Bournemouth Symphony from Bunny Laden on Vimeo.



  • Dave says:

    That should be 1987, not 1957, no?

    A fine innings – sad news.

  • Martin Furber says:

    I well remember Ray as principal in Bournemouth back in the halcyon days of Constantin Silvestri, when as a teenager I used to attend concerts and reheasals at Bristol’s Colston Hall (it will always remain Colston to me, whatever the P.C. brigade rename it). He was a wonderful musician and I treasure many recordings that feature him at the BSO. By happy coincidence I can retain a link with him as his son Nick (also a fine clainettist) is Head of Winds at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, where I now live. RIP Ray.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      And it was Carpenter who singlehandedly maintained Silvestri’s legacy when the conductor was undeservedly forgotten. He has numerous tapes of the concerts and even published a book called “Constantin Silvestri Magician: A View From the Orchestra” which contains great stories.

      One of those stories, actually collected by Carpenter from one of his colleagues, tells about Silvestri’s reluctance to lead concerts in small towns because his (wrong) understanding was he’ll conduct in say, Bournemouth, Bristol, or Portsmouth and leave smaller localities to his assistants. When this assumption proved to be incorrect, Silvestri decided that the program of his first tour of Cornwall and Devon would consist of: Malcolm Lipkin’s Movement for Strings, Francis Chagrin’s Bagatelle, Jose Serebrier’s Pequena Musica, Marcel Mihalovici’s Symphonie Giocoso, Jean Rivier’s Symphony no. 3 for Strings and Honegger’s Symphony no. 2 for strings and trumpet. All of the pieces were new to the Bournemouth Orchestra’s repertoire and were never played “at home”. Thge tour was nonethelsess a success and Silvestri came to eventually love touring the small towns!

      RIP, Ray. Today I will listen to Borunemouth Symphony Orchestra recordings in which you delight us with your playing.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    I saw the documentary and it seems that it covers the things that I wrote above – in addition to other things, so do not hesitate to see it.

    There is one small correction: Silvestri did not conduct Enescu’s Oedipe in Paris, but at the Enescu Festival in Bucharest. And he defected when, among other things, he was not allowed to make a recording of the piece (fortunately a live recording survives though not in the best sound). I don’t know exactly how Silvestri defected but it was not after a tour of the Bucharest opera – though it was around 1958 or 1959.

  • brian hysong says:

    Nick spoke to me with such respect and reverence for his father,and his work ethic, on his last trip with the LPO to NYC ,where he sounded like a million bucks with the band!

  • brian hysong says:

    SO,i guess the apple doesen’t fall far from the tree!

  • Caroline Smale says:

    Ray was the first professional clarinetist I ever met, it was during a schools concert at Plymouth about 1950. He was then second to Hyram Lear (what a lovely name) and the orchestra was still then The Bournemouth Municipal, not yet “Symphony”.
    It was that concert that created a life long love for the clarinet and my decision that I would one day try to be a clarinetist myself.
    So glad that his wonderful legacy is still audible on many older BSO recordings