The clarinet has a long and rich history as a solo, orchestral, and chamber musical instrument. In this broad-ranging account Eric Hoeprich, a performer, teacher, and expert on historical clarinets, explores its development, repertoire, and performance history. Looking at the antecedents of the clarinet, as well as such related instruments as the chalumeau, basset horn, alto clarinet, and bass clarinet, Hoeprich explains the use and development of the instrument in the Baroque age. The period from the late 1700s to Beethoven's early years is shown to have fostered ever wider distribution and use of the instrument, and a repertoire of increasing richness. The first half of the nineteenth century, a golden age for the clarinet, brought innovation in construction and great virtuosity in performance, while the following century and a half produced a surge in new works from many composers. The author also devotes a chapter to the role of the clarinet in bands, folk music, and jazz.