Charles Neidich



Competition Winner

Born: 1953 (New York City)

Clarinetist and Conductor Charles Neidich, winner of the 1985 Naumburg Clarinet Award, has gained worldwide recognition as one of the most mesmerizing virtuosos performing today.  Mr. Neidich has received unanimous accolades from critics and fellow musicians both in the U.S. and abroad; but it is his musical intelligence in scores as diverse as Mozart and Elliott Carter that has earned for Mr. Neidich a unique place among clarinetists.  In the words of The New Yorker, “He’s an artist of uncommon merit – a master of his instrument and, beyond that, an interpreter who keeps listeners hanging on each phrase.”

 An ardent exponent of new music and a composer himself, Mr. Neidich has expanded the technical and expressive possibilities of the clarinet and has championed the works of many of the world’s most important composers. He is a leading performer on period instruments and has restored and reconstructed original versions of works of composers from Mozart to Copland.  Mr. Neidich can be heard on the Chandos, Sony Classical, Sony Vivarte, Deutsche Grammophone, Musicmasters, Pantheon and Bridge labels, as well as in the Mozart Basset Clarinet Concerto on historical instruments for Bremen Radio Hall Recordings. He is publishing editions of major clarinet and wind chamber music for Keiser Southern Music, has made instrumental videos for Play with a Pro, and together along with his wife, clarinetist Ayako Oshima, publishes a monthly column in the Japanese magazine, Pipers.

Under Mr. Neidich and Ms.Oshima’s direction, the WA Concert Series,held at the Tenri Cultural Center Institute, brings lesser-known composers and works to the public, synthesizing Mr. Neidich’s lifetime of musical knowledge, exploration, and thoughtful reflection. As a conductor, Mr. Neidich has guest conducted throughout the U.S., Europe and Japan.

In wide demand as a soloist, Mr. Neidich has collaborated with the world’s leading orchestras and ensembles: the BBC Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, the MDR Orchestra, Halle Staatsorchester, Orpheus, the  St. Louis, Jacksonville, Pasadena and San Diego, and Minneapolis Symphonies, the Yomiuri Symphony and Tokyo Philharmonic, Hyogo PAC Orchestra, Tafelmusik, Solamente Naturali, theJuilliard, Guarneri, American, Mendelssohn and Parker Quartets

A native New Yorker of Belorussian and Greek descent, Charles Neidich began his studies  with his father and continued them with the noted pedagogue Leon Russianoff.   He received a BA, cum laude, in anthropology from Yale University.  While at Yale, he was awarded the Selden Prize for musicianship and scholarship.  In 1975 he became the first recipient of a Fulbright grant for study in the former Soviet Union and attended the Moscow Conservatory.  His European honors include top prizes at the1982 Munich International ARD Competition, the Geneva, and the Paris Accanthes International Competitions. Mr. Neidich previously taught at the Eastman School of Music and is currently a member of the faculties of the CUNY Graduate Center, The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and the Mannes School of Music at the New School. While at Eastman he joined the NY Woodwind Quintet, an ensemble with which he still performs. In 2004, he was awarded the William Schuman Award for performance and scholarship at The Juilliard School, and in2018, was awarded a lifetime achievement membership in honor of his artistic achievements by the International Clarinet Society and a medal for lifetime achievement from the National Society of Arts and Letters. Now in its 13th season, Mr. Neidich and Ms. Oshima are the co-founders of The Kitakaruizawa Music Seminar.

As part of his Naumburg Award, Charles Neidich was given two commissioned works: William Schuman's Awake, Thou Wintry Earth; and Joan Tower's Clarinet Concerto, that received its world premiere by Mr. Neidich and the American Composers Orchestra conducted by Jorge Mester at Carnegie Hall. (See review below)

Mr. Neidich is a member of the Walter W. Naumburg Board of Directors

The New York Times review, February 13, 1986 (Charles Neidich's Naumburg concert)

Recital: Charles Neidich

"THE Walter W. Naumburg Foundation recently held what was apparently the first major clarinet competition in this country, and Tuesday night it presented the winner, Charles Neidich, in recital at Alice Tully Hall.

Mr. Neidich's program was nicely diversified. It included some solidly Romantic 19th-century music -Brahms's Sonata in E flat (Op. 120, No. 2) and Schumann's ''Three Romances'' (Op. 94), often heard on the oboe. There were the folkishly appealing ''Four Hungarian Dances'' (1951) by Rezso Kokai, who trod the same paths as Bartok and Kodaly. There were two contemporary scores for solo clarinet by Karlheinz Stockhausen and Meyer Kupferman. And at the end there was a dazzling, airily inconsequential Fantasia on Motives from Verdi's ''Rigoletto'' by a 19th-century Italian clarinet virtuoso, Luigi Bassi.

The most interesting of the novelties were those by Mr. Stockhausen and Mr. Kupferman, and their most interesting aspect was the way the Kupferman, by a composer barely known outside New York, so clearly outshone the work by one of contemporary music's international superstars. The Stockhausen, like so much of his recent music, seemed an arid exercise, notable mostly for its theatricality: composed for his longtime associate Suzanne Stephens, the piece, ''In Freundschaft'' (1977), invokes all manner of specified body langauge as well as mere playing.

Mr. Kupferman's ''Moonflowers, Baby!'' (1983), subtitled ''jazz essay,'' comes with the option of an improvised drum part, which Mr. Neidich ignored. The clarinet part alone, however, is full of charm and cleverness, one of the finest ''third stream'' pieces this writer has encountered. Hints of blues and jazz fly by (they really flew on Tuesday, since Mr. Neidich took eight minutes when the score suggests eleven), their earthiness and grace hinted at deftly in a context far more precisely plotted and complexly argued than most jazz improvisations can be.

Mr. Neidich himself, who was warmly accompanied by the pianist Elena Ivanina, is a familiar figure on the New York concert scene, as a member of such ensembles as the New York Woodwind Quintet, Orpheus and Parnassus. He is an obvious master of his instrument, with some of his soft playing, both sustained and ornate, of special distinction. To this taste - and this is apparently a matter of taste - he could well have cultivated a mellower, more rounded tone, and he could have relaxed a bit with his nervous overinterpretations of the Brahms and Schumann. But otherwise, this was as virtuosically rendered, carefully considered a recital as one could hope to hear on any instrument." John Rockwell

The New York Times review, April 14, 1988

Music: Notes in Brief; Charles Neidich Offers New Clarinet Concerto

"Charles Neidich won the Naumburg Foundation's clarinet competition in 1985 and is still collecting parts of his prize, the latest installment of which was the concerto by Joan Tower that he unveiled at the American Symphony Orchestra's Sunday afternoon concert, conducted by Jorge Mester, at Carnegie Hall.

The work, cast in a single, abidingly tonal but rambunctious 20-minute movement, is essentially a pitched battle between soloist and orchestra in the time-honored concerto tradition, with the clarinetist (joined at times by the orchestra's principal clarinetist in conspiratorial tandem lines) emerging triumphantly over the massed orchestral forces.

Overall, Ms. Tower focuses on the instrument's range and color, preferring to emphasize its fleet, mercurial qualities rather than its capacity for lyricism. Mr. Neidich, playing a basset clarinet with an extended range, met the work's demands with apparent ease, as did the orchestra's clarinetist, Mitchell Weiss, in the particularly effective shared cadenzas." Allan Kozinn


1985 Clarinet Competition

First Prize

Commissioned Works

William Schuman: Awake, Thou Wintry Earth

Naumburg Performances

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Recording Awards

1985 Philip Naumburg Solo Recording Prize (Charles Neidich)

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