Stanley Drucker at 90: I had pretty good nerves

Stanley Drucker at 90: I had pretty good nerves


norman lebrecht

February 04, 2019

The emblematic principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic is 90 today.

He gives an expansive interview to here.

The Guinness Book of Records has him down as the longest-serving clarinet in a professional orchestra. In 60 years in the orchestra, he says, he never cracked a clarinet. ‘I played so much it never got dry,’ he explains.



  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Amazing career. I have in my hands right now a Buffet Bb clarinet (#99627) that I bought from Hans Moennig (legendary woodwind dealer and repairman in Philadelphia) around1968. He told me that it was one of three that Stanley Drucker had selected at the factory but Stanley chose another from this trio. I played it for about 10 years and even performed my masters recital on it in 1969. As close to clarinet greatness as I ever got, LOL. I met him several times and although he was not my idol (Robert Marcellus, Harold Wight, and Reginald Kell were my heros), he is still a force and an inspiration to the woodwind world. Bon anniversaire from a fellow Curtisite, maestro.

  • Larry says:

    An amazing career, especially when you consider that the NY Philharmonic was his SECOND job!!!

  • John Borstlap says:

    What a handsome man for his nineties, and that for a clarinettist.


  • JamesM says:

    Thanks so much for posting this special tribute to a real master. As a young clarinet student in the late 60s, I was in awe of Stanley’s ability to absolutely nail every solo in the NYPO over such an incredibly long career. His incomparable recording of the Nielsen Concerto is still jaw-dropping.
    In 1967 when the orchestra toured Canada, I had a lesson with him and he was so gracious and helpful. It led to an excellent music education at the Manhattan School of Music where I studied with Leon Russianoff, Stanley’s own teacher and mentor whose inspiration I draw upon to this day.
    So all the best to Stanley Drucker – a true legend! And..I’m told by a mutual friend…he’s still playing!

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Yes, the recording of the Nielsen Concerto may be his most lasting artistic monument but don’t forget the Corigliano Concerto recording. Artists of this rank should never be forgotten.

  • FreddyNg says:

    Reliable as his playing may be I have never been impressed by his tonal quality. His playing always seem to resemble that of a kazoo when compared to his colleagues in Cleveland and Chicago……

    • Bruce says:

      “A tone like a shout” is how I always described it. However, over the years I came to recognize that underneath that tone is a great musician.

      (It’s kind of like: if you won’t listen to Callas because her voice wasn’t beautiful, well… tonal beauty is not a minor consideration, but you’re missing a LOT)

    • John Kelly says:

      Yes, not a soft, velvety warm Jack Brymer tone, but it’s not a Boosey and Hawkes clarinet – I believe Stan plays French instrument(s) with a more assertive, penetrating, vibrant sound (dare I say almost a Benny Goodman sound?). Suited the NYPO but would have suited the Paris Conservatoire too. Wonderful artist who I heard many times. Did the Copland Concerto superbly.

  • Norman Krieger says:

    Had the pleasure and privilege of performing Rhapsody in Blue with the NY Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta. Never heard a more compelling opening than Stanley’s! Mazal Tov and happy birthday!!!!