Rondo Variations

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rondo variations

for solo clarinet and wind ensemble

In 1985 I was commissioned to write a Clarinet Concerto for that prince of English clarinettists, Jack Brymer, who celebrated his seventieth birthday in that year. I dedicated the concerto to Jack who gave the first performance with his accustomed impeccable style and skill. The last movement: Variazione al Rondo, always struck me as a candidate for rescoring for wind ensemble, and Rondo Variations is the result.

The soloist introduces the rondo theme, which is tailor-made for the instrument. Nine variations follow, which both develop the theme and encapsulate new material, including a slower middle section (variations six, seven and eight), which has its own internal structure: Andante – Allegretto – Andante con moto. In the Finale (variation nine), recurring themes are further developed, and the soloist introduces a new tune with a distinctly Gallic flavour, before reminding us of the original statement.

The original Clarinet Concerto was commissioned by the Beauchamp Sinfonietta in 1985, with generous support from Mercia Sound, the Coventry-based independent radio station serving Coventry and Warwickshire.


Rondo Variations


Guy Woolfenden

First peformance

Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire
4th December 1998
Birmingham Conservatoire Wind Orchestra conducted by the composer
with Benjamin Hensel, clarinet


8 minutes


USA Band Grade 5

Year composed


Date of publication



Polyphonic QPRM 137D Linda Merrick, clarinet
Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra conducted by Guy Woolfenden

Dinmore Records DRD 272 world-wide-woolfenden
Birmingham Symphonic Winds conducted by Keith Allen with Linda Merrick, clarinet

  • 979-0-57009-442-4 [Complete set]
  • 979-0-57009-443-1 [Full score]
No. of Pages



Solo Clarinet & Wind Orchestra

Full instrumentation
one player to a part
Full score TIMPANI
Solo Bb Clarinet 3 Pedal Drums
Flute 1
Flute 2
Oboe 2 Glockenspiel
Cor Anglais
Eb Clarinet
Bb Clarinet 1
Bb Clarinet 2
Bb Clarinet 3
Bb Bass Clarinet Alternative transpositions supplied:
Bassoon 1 Eb Horn 1
Bassoon 2 Eb Horn 2
Contrabassoon Eb Horn 3
Bb Trumpet 1 Bb Trombone 1 TC
Bb Trumpet 2 Bb Trombone 2 TC
F Horn 1 Bb Trombone 3 TC
F Horn 2 Bb Bass TC
F Horn 3 Bb Trombone 1 BC
Trombone 1 Bb Trombone 2 BC
Trombone 2 Bb Trombone 3 BC
Trombone 3 Eb Bass TC
Tuba Eb Bass BC
String Bass Bb Bass BC
Timpani Bb Baritone BC

Press & Public Reviews

Rondo Variations was a sheer pleasure to listen to with humour and wit abundant in this chamber music-like work.

Clarino Magazine

Guy Woolfenden’s Rondo Variations is a graceful work written in a beguilingly simple style that skilfully avoids an overtly saccharine flavour. The rondo theme exploits well the instrument’s character with playful leaps across wide intervals, a compact variation form that takes the listener through a series of mood changes away from the quirkiness of the opening towards more plangent and fluid melodic lines in the slower section. Merrick and the orchestra combine to make these changes highly effective.

Music Teacher

The Rondo Variations is originally the last movement of a clarinet concerto written by Guy Woolfenden in 1985 for Jack Brymer. The theme is a semi-angular Coplandesque diatonic ditty treated to nine variations. The scoring for wind ensemble is excellent and the music is completely listenable and suave.

David Niethamer – The Clarinet

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