Episode 20 – Harry Sparnaay, legendary pioneer of the bass clarinet on his life, and searching for his past

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In this episode of the Clarineat Podcast host Sean Perrin speaks with the legendary Harry Sparnaay, who has had an incredible career pioneering the bass clarinet as a recognized solo instrument. Harry has performed all around the world, has recorded will over 60 CDs, and has had over 650 works composed for him by composers including Isang Yung, Mortan Feldman, Iannis Xenakis, Brian Furneyhough and many others. Harry is also an incredible passionate educator, and many of the world’s greatest bass clarinetists, including the wonderful Lori Freedman who was featured in Episode 5 of the podcast, studied with him.

Harry talks about his life and career, working with composers, following your dreams and much more. He is also reaching out to the Clarineat community to please provide him with recordings they may have of his live performances over the years. After retiring at 70 from playing, he would love to reflect on his career and listen to as many pieces as possible. If you have or know of a place where these recordings may be, please email him directly at harry.bcl@periferiamusic.com. He sends his thanks in advance and looks forward very much to hearing from you!

Also available on: iTunes | Soundcloud


Website:  HarrySparnaay.info

Email address: harry.bcl@periferiamusic.com

Documentary Film: Harry Sparnaay Documentary

Discussion Topics:

  • New Harry Sparnaay Documentary
  • A love of public speaking
  • Accomplishing new pieces and challenges
  • Sharing music with others
  • The Bass clarinet as a solo instrument
  • Why you should play contemporary music on bass clarinet
  • Loving resistance instead of fighting it
  • Following your true passion
  • The versatility of the bass clarinet
  • Harry’s first taste of music
  • The importance of loving music
  • Working with composers
  • What makes a masterpiece?
  • Collecting Harry’s Past recordings
  • Morton Feldman – For Bass Clarinet and Percussion
  • Trying to collect Harry’s past live recordings
  • Extended techniques
  • Playing a garden hose (seriously!)
  • Sound comes from the player, not the gear.
  • Lightning round questions


Brian Furneyhough

Iannis Xenakis

Isang Yung

Morton Feldman

Iannis Xenakis

Le Corbusier

Lightning Round Questions:

What is on your music stand right now?

“Softly as a morning Sunrise” for tenor saxophone

Do you have a book you’d like to recommend to the Clarineat Audience?

Biography of Isang Yung

What was the best advice you ever you received?

“Follow your dreams” – Ru Otto (Harry’s teacher)

What is your all-time favorite piece of music or album?

Brahms Clarinet Quintet

If you could meet any composer or musician throughout history who would it be?

Brahms and Debussy



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