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100 Clarinets: Eric Hoeprich

My father was a doctor, but played the clarinet in his youth and had a few recorders lying around, which I picked up at an early age. By the time I was 7, I’d started playing the clarinet, which I pursued with enthusiasm…my interest in the history of the clarinet has led to accumulating over 100 antique clarinets.

Eric Hoeprich, clarinet, Aston Magna Music Festival

Eric Hoeprich 1808 (4)It’s been said that the best way to become a musician is to have the right parents. Obviously there’s more to it than that, but having the path of music both open and encouraged certainly helps. My father was a doctor, but played the clarinet in his youth and had a few recorders lying around, which I picked up at an early age. By the time I was 7, I’d started playing the clarinet, which I pursued with enthusiasm.

Something quite serendipitous then happened. I went off to Harvard where as a freshman I had the opportunity to study privately with Frans Brüggen — a wonderful musician and great teacher. Suddenly “early music” became my passion. So I finished by undergraduate study in philosophy and left for Holland where I spent the next 30 years.

Although I had heard and admired Aston Magna Artistic Director Dan Stepner during my years in the Boston area, we didn’t meet until we played together in Brüggen’s Orchestra of the 18th Century in 1983. After that, as they say, the rest is history — dozens of tours with that orchestra, concerts at the MFA, with Handel & Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, and, of course, as part of Aston Magna.

Not long after the Orchestra of the 18th century was formed, I organized a group to play the Schubert Octet on a tour in Holland and Germany. For this, who else for first violin than Dan Stepner?! It was my first experience with the piece and immensely rewarding. We subsequently played the Octet in the Aston Magna Festival and recorded it for Harmonie Mundi. To be playing it now again, at our “Wind Power” concert July 2-4, will be absolute bliss.

For these concerts I’ll play two clarinets — one I made myself and one from the period by Heinrich Grenser, Dresden, c.1810. My interest in the history of the clarinet has led to accumulating over 100 antique clarinets.

I’ve also done a fair amount of scholarly research which led to the publication of a book, The Clarinet (Yale University Press, 2008). The book can be found at Amazon and Yale University Press.

"The Clarinet"

“The Clarinet”

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