Ernst Ottensamer (1955-2017)

Ernst Ottensamer – principal clarinettist with the Vienna State Opera and Vienna Philharmonic – has died. He was a paltry 62.

In truth, he died last weekend following a heart-attack. So, in writing about the news, I’ve taken my time. It amazes me that even when you’re a digital native, news can sometimes take its time to dribble through.

Mind you, no-one wants to prematurely announce someone’s death, so perhaps it better to have waited until the usual outlets have done so first.

It’s sad news. What death isn’t? Sad in part because in addition to be a hugely successful clarinettist himself, Ottensamer’s talent permeated to his equally phenomenal sons, also clarinettists.

Father Ernst has the enviable achievement of managing to create something magical out of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto – a core work for any clarinettist, and one that made me want to bite my own hand off whenever I heard it, until I heard his recording for basset clarinet. Highly recommended.

Search YouTube and you’ll find this reference to the great man’s passing in an Austrian news bulletin – a measure of how highly the man was regarded, and how musicians are regarded in Europe too. There’s a thing. It wouldn’t happen here. Maybe it should.



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