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Mitchell Lurie

A musician of extraordinary vitality, commanding a huge dynamic range and a widely-varied tonal palette, the playing of clarinetist Mitchell Lurie is worthy of serious study by all aspiring wind players. Born on March 9, 1922 in Brooklyn, New York, he and his family moved later that year to Los Angeles, where his parents ran a dry goods store. He considered Los Angeles a kind of paradise in those days, and the strong bond he formed with that city in his youth would lead to major decisions later in life. His first important teacher was Antonio Raimondi, second clarinetist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, for whom Lurie retained respect and admiration throughout his career. The most outstanding event in his early life was a performance, at age 16, of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Otto Klemperer. A year later he auditioned for the Curtis Institute of Music, where he began studies in the fall of 1939. After a frustrating year of tutelage with Robert McGinnis, Lurie completed his studies at Curtis with the great artist and pedagogue Daniel Bonade.

About Bonade, Lurie said: “He was the most flexible teacher, and he believed in the individual. He always seemed to have the right button to push for every student.” Bonade later became Lurie’s mentor and teaching model. For his part, Bonade, in a moment of candor late in his career, admitted that his two favorite students had been Mitchell Lurie and Robert Marcellus.

{The rest of this article is available in BR1076}