Carl Maria von Weber, son of a versatile musician who had founded his own travelling theatre company, and a cousin of Mozart's wife Constanze, was trained as a musician from his childhood. He made a favorable impression as a pianist and then as music director, notably in the opera houses of Prague and Dresden where he introduced various reforms such as conducting without the use of violin or keyboard instrument. As a composer he won a lasting reputation with the first important Romantic German opera, Der Freischütz. He wrote the Clarinet Quintet for the outstanding clarinetist of the Munich Orchestra, Heinrich Bärmann. Weber was so taken with Bärmann's playing in 1811 that he quickly composed two clarinet concertos and a concertino for him. As the instrument was relatively new, Weber's works for the clarinet broke new ground, affording it a new measure of prominence and displaying its wide-ranging capabilities for both expressivity and virtuosic display. It is a tribute to Weber's ability that this piece remains a favorite in the standard repertory. --James Huff 00:04, March 26, 2007 (EDT) (from the program notes of The Claremont Winds, submitted with permission)