Biography of the Duo

The two clarinetists Beate Zelinsky (born in Hannover, Germany) and David Smeyers (born in Detroit, U.S.A.) have worked together since 1980 as Das Klarinettenduo. Their concerts have taken them throughout Europe as well as North America and Japan. Recordings of their classical and modern repertoire have been made in almost all of Germany’s radio houses in addition to many foreign stations throughout the world. They have recorded several LPs and CDs as the Klarinettenduo, together with other chamber music formations and partners including accordion, double bass, piano, voice and also as soloists. Their new Duo-CD „Annäherung/Abweichung“ (English: “Approach/Divergence”) — made possible by a grant from the Kunststiftung NRW and recorded at the West German Radio (WDR) — was released in the fall of 2009 by edition zeitklang.

Their intensive work with composers representing a wide diversity of styles has resulted in about forty works, written for and premiered by the duo. Their extensive instrumentarium includes the complete clarinet family, from the high A flat clarinet to the Basset Horn down to the contrabass clarinet (along with the tárogáto and saxophones).

The Klarinettenduo has performed at many Festivals (Pro Musica Nova — Bremen, Römerbad Musiktage — Badenweiler, Rheinisches Musikfest, Romanischer Sommer — Köln, Frankfurter Feste, Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik, Nuova Consonanza — Rome, Weltmusiktage der IGNM, Musik‑Fest Insel Hombroich, musica viva — München, Rheingau-Musikfestival, Ultraschall — Berlin, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Weingartener Tage für Neue Musik, Musik in den Häusern der Stadt — Köln, ensembl[:E:]uropa — Köln, among others). As soloists they appeared at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as the “Swallow Clown Duo” in Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Donnerstag aus LICHT”.

In 2005 the Klarinettenduo gave the world premiere of Adriana Hölszky’s “On the other Side” for Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet, Accordion and large Orchestra in Berlin with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. Her “Flugmanöver” for two clarinets and orchestra was premiered at the Donaueschingen Music Festival 2006, the duo being accompanied by the Southwest German Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg. In November 2008 the Klarinettenduo gave the first performance of Nikolaus Brass’ Double Concerto “Zeit im Grund” for two clarinetists and string orchestra together with the Munich Chamber Orchestra in Weingarten, Germany. February 2009 marked the premiere in Cologne at the West German Radio (WDR) of the Double Concerto “Orgoras Speaks” by the Icelandic composer Atli Ingólfsson together with Reykjavik’s Caput Ensemble. The commission for Atli Ingólfsson was made possible by a grant from the Kunststiftung NRW. 

Both have published articles about New Music in English and German. Their Pro Musica Nova/Studies for Playing Contemporary Music for Clarinet, published by Breitkopf & Härtel, was greeted with critical acclaim and has become a standard textbook in many of the world’s music conservatories.

Sought-after as teachers and coaches they have given master classes for clarinetists, composers and chamber musicians in many countries (Royal Academy of Music, London; Centre Acanthes, Avignon; Hombroich: Neue Musik; Sommercampus, Rostock; Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg; Musikhochschule Lübeck; Institut für Musikerziehung, Bozen; Europäische Akademie, Montepulciano). They founded the Youth Ensemble for New Music NRW and directed it from 2005 until 2008 in which function they also acted in Schleswig-Holstein from 2009 until 2010.


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