Montreal mourns solo clarinet

Montreal mourns solo clarinet


norman lebrecht

January 24, 2020

The Montreal Symphony has announced the death of its retired principal clarinet, Robert Crowley, famed for his introduction to its Dutoit recording of Rhapsody in Blue.

Bob taught two generations of rising clarinet players at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music.

He had also been principal clarinet at Oklahoma City Symphony Orchestra and the Hamilton (Ontario) Philharmonic.



  • MacroV says:

    He was a lovely player – of the Marcellus school that seemed to dominate the U.S. clarinet scene in the 70s-90s. And surprisingly low-profile in the clarinet world for the principal in a high -profile group like the OSM. But I’m not sure he’s the clarinetist on Rhapsody in Blue; that recording is from 1989, when the late Emilio Iacurto was principal; IIRC Mr. Crowley became principal in 1998 (but was assistant principal from 1978).

    • ClarinetFan says:

      Dutoit had his assistants play principal on several recordings. That is indeed Bob playing, his name is listed on the cd as well!

    • Montreal fan says:

      Bob Crowley was associate (not assistant) principal at the time of the recording, but he definitely played the solo part on the Rhapsody in Blue recording. A fantastic clarinetist and musician (and magician!) and a warm, generous human being, Bob will be greatly missed.

    • music_montreal says:

      I knew Bob personally, and that was him on the record. He was an excellent jazzer and improviser, and even a great sax player – after retiring he played sax as an extra with OSM on a few occasions!

    • Michael Dumouchel says:

      In fact, it is Bob Crowley playing the solo in Rhapsody in Blue. I know because I was playing second to him.
      – Michael Dumouchel

      • Virginia says:

        Dear Michael, I was so saddened to find out about Bob’s passing. Fron the net, it looks like you two played together for quite a while. I remember Bob as a really friendly guy who I met in the cafeteria the night of his Performer’s Certificate concert When I said, “Big night tonight, good luck!”, he just stared vack at me as if he was in shock. He did great at the concert though of course. For me Bob will remain as that nice young kid who really practiced and made it to the big leagues! Email me at vrm3j@virginia and let me know how you’re doing.
        Best, Ginny Mosser (oboist)

  • My goodness, I have missed how many generations of Montreal Symphony players! Solo clarinetists Raphael Masella, Larry Combs, Emilio Iacurto, and Robert Crowley…

  • Stringcircle says:

    Perfect intro