J. S. Bach
FLUTE SONATAS
arranged as
DUETS
for Flute & Clarinet

The challenge with duets in general, is finding works where the two parts are of relatively equal difficulty. This is especially compounded with the Flute and Clarinet, because the Clarinet is a transposing instrument - without even attempting to explain transposing instrument or argue its value I am merely accepting that it is a transposing instrument.

My personal experience with Flute/Clarinet duets, being a performer on both instruments, was that the Clarinet part was usually harder than the Flute part. This was most often due to the keys in which the clarinet ended up and the relative awkwardness of crossing the bridge on a Boehm system Clarinet, requiring the specific use of right or left hand little finger keys to make the work playable. Most players can read the music with relative ease but reading (and implementing) the proper fingering is usually the stumbling block.

Again, from personal experience, several times after a performance of a duet on Clarinet, with a part which had required a fair amount of work and practice, I have gone back and sight read the Flute part with no difficulty!

In some works for Flute and Clarinet (Sain-Saens Tarantella, for example) both parts are of relatively equal difficulty and the reason seems to be the use of Clarinet in A rather than Bb Clarinet. In the last couple of decades the Clarinet in A has become much more common, available at most Universities, Colleges and Schools with Wind & String programs. In addition, many students own their own instrument - the Clarinet in A is no longer in the exclusive domain of the professional orchestral Clarinetist.

To keep the parts of equal difficulty Clarinet in A, rather than Bb Clarinet, has been used in half of the Sonatas - each volume contains 4 Sonatas:

Volume 1
(Flute & Bb Clarinet)
Sonata in G Minor (BWV 1020)
Sonata No. 2 in Eb Major (BWV 1031)
Sonata No. 4 in C Major (BWV 1033)
Sonata No. 5 in E Minor (BWV 1034)

Volume 2
(Flute & Clarinet in A)
Sonata No. 1 in B Minor (BWV 1030)
Sonata No. 3 in A Major (BWV 1032)
Sonata No. 5 in E Minor (BWV 1034)
Sonata No. 6 in E Major (BWV 1035)

Sonata No. 5 in E Minor (BWV 1034) is in both volumes, available for either Clarinet in A or Bb. This presents a good opportunity to compare the relative difficulty of the two parts - I feel that the A Clarinet version is easier.


Johann Sebastian Bach, composer, violinist and keyboard virtuoso, was born on March 21, 1685 in Eisenach, Germany and died on July 28, 1750 in Leipzig, Germany. He is best known for his composition for keyboard, especially organ, and, because he was employed as a church musician, his religious works: the Mass in B Minor and Saint Matthew Passion are perennial favorites at Christmas and Easter, respectively.

For details on the history and background visit J. S. Bach Flute Sonatas.


The order of the Bach Flute Sonatas is not in level of difficulty.

The 2010 Edition of The Royal Conservatory (Canada) lists:
Grade 8: Sonata in G Minor (BWV 1020) & No. 2 in Eb Major (BWV 1031)
Grade 9: No. 3 in A Major (BWV 1032) & No. 4 in C Major (BWV 1033)
Grade 10: No. 5 in E Minor (BWV 1034) & No. 6 in E Major (BWV 1035)
ARCT (Grade 12): No. 1 in B Minor (BWV 1030)

These duets are of great value to both players:
for the Clarinetist - the opportunity to play & perform the music of Bach
for the Flautist - the part is the same as “usual” (Flute & Keyboard) with a few additions (marked “original keyboard”) replacing multi measure rests; however, because the “accompaniment” is visible (and audible) as the Clarinet part, it makes the interaction of the parts, understanding and interpretation of the work much easier.

Every Flautist will find that their conventional performance of the work (with keyboard) will be improved by playing the duet version.


Each Volume contains both parts (double lined - Flute on top, Clarinet on bottom) with “doable” page turns - for rehearsal or performance.
An Audio CD (with Flute full left and Clarinet full right) is also included.

Volume 1 (Flute & Bb Clarinet)
$19.95 - Includes:
Flute/Clarinet part - 9”X12” - 44 pages
Audio CD (also contains SmartMusic smp files)




Volume 2 (Flute & Clarinet in A)
$19.95 - Includes:
Flute/Clarinet part - 9”X12” - 48 pages
Audio CD (also contains SmartMusic smp files)




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