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About Jack Brymer

Widely considered the dean of British clarinetists up to his death in 2003, Jack Brymer once said that "the ability to play the clarinet is the ability to overcome the imperfections of the instrument," adding that "there's no such thing as a perfect clarinet, never was and never will be." Brymer was working as a schoolteacher and had just given his debut recital on BBC Radio when his friend Dennis Brain, the prominent horn player, suggested that he audition for the empty first clarinet chair in Britain's new Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1947. He was picked by conductor Thomas Beecham and remained with the Royal Philharmonic for 16 years, later joining the BBC Symphony (1963-1972) and the London Symphony (1972-1985, retiring on his 70th birthday). Brymer's three recordings of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto are considered classics, and one was heard in the film Out of Africa. He also recorded other clarinet and wind ensemble music of Mozart, as well as several Romantic-era concertos, but he knew and performed more music than he ever recorded. One other Jack Brymer performance that everyone knows, however, is that of the clarinet part in the long orchestral crescendo in the Beatles' "A Day in the Life." Atypically for players of his time, Brymer also investigated music by some of the lesser-known composers of the Classical era. Brymer wrote two books, hosted radio programs, and served as a professor at several top British music schools, including the Royal Military School of Music. From time to time he played jazz clarinet in British clubs, and he also recorded as part of the jazz group of his best-known student, saxophonist John Harle.

South Shields, England
27 Jan 1915