Commissioned by jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman, Aaron Copland composed his Symphony No. 3 – Concerto for clarinet, strings and harp.
It was first performed by Benny Goodman on a radio broadcast with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in November 1950.
Copland wrote: “The instrumentation being clarinet with strings, harp, and piano, I did not have a large battery of percussion to achieve jazzy effects, so I used slapping basses and whacking harp sounds to simulate them. The Clarinet Concerto ends with a fairly elaborate coda in C major that finishes off with a clarinet glissando – or “smear” in jazz lingo.”
Although composed specifically for him, Benny Goodman felt there were some technical challenges above his skill level, and therefore altered the original score to lower some of the higher notes to make them easier to play.