Stanley Drucker Obituary, Death – Stanley Drucker, the dean of American symphonic clarinetists during a 60-year career with the New York Philharmonic, died Monday in Vista, Calif., near San Diego. 93-year-old Lee Drucker confirmed his death at his daughter’s home. Mr. Drucker retired in 2009 as the Philharmonic’s fourth lead clarinetist since 1920. Few American wind players served as long.
He played for Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur, and Lorin Maazel, offering a soloistic, technically and sonically brilliant, flamboyant, and borderline abrasive manner and sound.
Drucker’s wording and fingerwork were flawless. He was recognized for his youthful look and vitality well into his 70s with his iron-gray hair and crooked front tooth. His orchestra moniker was “Stanley Steamer” because of his quick offstage marches to Massapequa, Long Island. “Running for the train” was his favorite exercise. Due of his extended employment, he encountered the same pieces repeatedly and greeted them like “old friends.” Different conductors’ opinions kept things new, he said.
“You absorb whoever’s on stage,” he added. These maestri deferred to Mr. Drucker’s clarinet solo renditions. When a clarinet-playing New York Times reporter requested to perform with the orchestra in 2004, Mr. Drucker had the last say, not Mr. Maazel, not Zarin Mehta, nor even Carl Schiebler. Mr. Drucker’s tenure with the Philharmonic included 10,200 concerts, 191 solo appearances, and recordings of practically every important clarinet concerto and soloist.
He recorded most clarinet chamber works. He was nominated for two Grammys: Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto with Leonard Bernstein and John Corigliano’s Concerto with Zubin Mehta. Drucker’s Corigliano was commissioned by the Philharmonic. Musical America honored him as instrumentalist of the year in 1998, and he was listed in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
Mozart’s final concerto is a standard for clarinetists. Allan Kozinn of The Times said Drucker provided a “lively, finely constructed interpretation” of the first movement and “tapped all the yearning beauty in the Andante”
“But in the climax, he really let go,” Mr. Kozinn said, “with phrasing twists that pushed against the line and by expressing a sense of heightened communication between his instrument and the rest of the orchestra.” Drucker envisioned a wind section as a single organism. In a 2004 interview, he told The Times, “You give and take.” “Chamber music. You enhance.” He advised orchestral players to learn an entire work and communicate “what’s inside, your sensibility.” Stanley Drucker was born in Brooklyn on Feb. 4, 1929, to Austro-Hungarian immigrants from Galicia. Raised in Brownsville and Park Slope. Joseph ran a tailor shop.
His mother was a homemaker. Benny Goodman inspired many clarinetists of the era, including Drucker. His parents got him a clarinet for his 10th birthday because to the Goodman mania. Mr. Drucker added, “They figured that was better than tailoring.” Mr. Drucker named his son after Leon Russianoff, a prominent clarinet pedagogue of the 20th century. Mr. Drucker attended Manhattan’s High School of Music and Art and Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute. He joined the Indianapolis Symphony at 16! He said, “The goal was to play and get outside.” “I thought I understood everything, but I didn’t” During the summers, he studied with Russianoff.