Thea King

Biography

Born: December 26, 1925; Hitchin, England   Died: July 26, 2007  
Thea King is considered the doyenne of British clarinetists, particularly known for promoting twentieth-century British clarinet music. A greatly loved and respected figure in British music, she had one of the leading international concert and recital careers in the history of the instrument.

She actually began as a piano scholarship student at the Royal College of Music, but she was the star pupil of the best-known English clarinetist of
Read more his time, Frederick "Jack" Thurston, whom she married in 1953. That was, sadly, also the year of his death at the age of 52. His 24-year old widow carried on in his tradition, becoming the most highly regarded clarinet teacher of her generation and a tireless champion of British music.

Thurston had given the premiere performances of chamber music works with clarinet by a number of English composers, many of which were written with his warm tone in mind, as well as the British premieres of the clarinet concertos of Carl Nielsen, Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith, and Darius Milhaud. Likewise, King premiered such works as Benjamin Frankel's Clarinet Quintet, Humphrey Searle's Suite (1956), Arnold Cooke's Clarinet Sonata, and John Ireland's Sextet, and presented the first recording of the long-forgotten single movement that Benjamin Britten wrote of a planned clarinet concerto. She also frequently performed, and recorded, the Charles Villiers Stanford's Clarinet Concerto, a work with which her husband was closely associated.

King became principal clarinet of the London Mozart Players in 1956 (until 1984), and in 1964 took a similar position with the English Chamber Orchestra. She was a member of the Portia Ensemble (1954 - 1968) and the Melos Ensemble (from 1974).

In 1961, she began teaching clarinet at the Royal College of Music in London, and became a professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1988. She pursued her long career as soloist, chamber player, orchestral player, and teacher in many locations around the world, giving master classes and making appearances at major concert venues in Europe, Britain, Hong Kong, Japan, Brazil, and North America.

She was well known for her performance of the major Mozart works featuring the clarinet: the Clarinet Concerto, the Clarinet Quintet, and the Kegelstatt Trio. She was adept on the related instruments, the basset horn and the basset clarinet, and played the Mozart concerto and quintet on its originally intended instrument, the basset clarinet. She also played piano, and by overdubbing recorded all three instrumental parts in Mendelssohn's Concert Piece, Op. 114, for clarinet, basset horn, and piano for a BBC Radio series, Double Exposure.

In addition to the standard clarinet repertory and British works, King had a strong interest in the largely forgotten clarinet works of the nineteenth century. She recorded all three clarinet concertos and the clarinet quartets of Crusell, as well as works by Tausch, Heinze, Süssmayer, and Andreas Romberg, and the major repertory works with clarinet by Johannes Brahms.

Thea King was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1985 and in 2001 was created a Dame of the British Empire. She recorded on the Hyperion label. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 26 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire, Etc / Manning, Et Al
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 9106 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Performer:  Susan Bradshaw,  Thea King,  William Bennett,  Jane Manning  ... 
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  • 2.
    Brahms: Complete Chamber Music
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 44331 Release Date: 10/14/2008   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Lawrence Power,  Simon Crawford-Phillips,  Timothy Hugh,  Krysia Osostowicz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Budapest String Quartet,  Raphael Ensemble,  Gabrieli String Quartet  ... 
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  • 3.
    Rawsthorne, Berkeley, Bush / Aeolian Quartet, Music Group Of London
    Label: Lyrita   Catalog: 256 Release Date: 05/13/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Bush,  Alan Rawsthorne,  Lennox Berkeley
    Performer:  Alan Bush,  Margaret Major,  Sydney Humphreys,  Thea King  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aeolian String Quartet,  Music Group of London
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  • 4.
    Howells: Piano Quartet, Fantasy Quartet, Etc / King, Et Al
    Label: Lyrita   Catalog: 292 Release Date: 03/11/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Herbert Howells
    Performer:  Thea King,  Bernard Roberts
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Richards Ensemble
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  • 5.
    Complete Mozart Edition 17 - Theatre & Ballet Music, Rarities & Suprises
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000586502 Release Date: 03/14/2006   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Timothy Brown,  Julian Farrell,  Mitsuko Uchida,  Thea King  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Kenneth Sillito,  Peter Schreier,  Sir Colin Davis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Netherlands Wind Ensemble members,  Leipzig Radio Choir  ... 
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  • 6.
    Gemini - Mozart: Wind Concertos / Barenboim
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 76918 Release Date: 02/21/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Peter Graeme,  Ifor James,  Martin Gatt,  Thea King  ... 
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Orchestre de Paris,  English Chamber Orchestra members
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  • 7.
    Schubert: The Complete Songs
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 44201/40 Release Date: 11/08/2005   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Gioachino Rossini,  Ludwig Berger  ... 
    Performer:  Graham Johnson,  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Christine Schäfer,  Michael George  ... 
    Conductor:  Stephen Layton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Holst Singers,  London Schubert Chorale,  New Company Singers
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  • 8.
    Crusell: Clarinet Concertos / King, Francis, London Symphony
    Label: Helios   Catalog: 55203 Release Date: 02/08/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernhard Henrik Crusell
    Performer:  Thea King
    Conductor:  Alun Francis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 9.
    Tausch: Double Clarinet Concertos;  Sussmayr / Thea King
    Label: Helios   Catalog: 55188 Release Date: 10/12/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Tausch,  Franz Xaver Süssmayer
    Performer:  Nicholas Bucknall,  Thea King
    Conductor:  Leopold Hager
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 10.
    Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas 1 & 2 / Thea King, Clifford Benson
    Label: Helios   Catalog: 55158 Release Date: 03/09/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Thea King,  Clifford Benson
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  • 11.
    Clarinet Quintets / Thea King, Britten Quartet
    Label: Helios   Catalog: 55105 Release Date: 05/13/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dame Elizabeth Maconchy,  Herbert Howells,  Josef Holbrooke,  Benjamin Frankel  ... 
    Performer:  Thea King
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Britten String Quartet
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  • 12.
    The Instruments Of The Orchestra / Jeremy Siepmann
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8558040-46 Release Date: 12/03/2002   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johannes Brahms,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  Takako Nishizaki,  Idil Biret,  Tedi Papavrami,  Maria Kliegel  ... 
    Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser,  Antoni Wit,  Richard Edlinger,  Takuo Yuasa  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana,  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Ulster Orchestra  ... 
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  • 13.
    Arnold, Britten, Maconchy: Clarinet Concertos / Thea King
    Label: Helios   Catalog: 55060 Release Date: 11/13/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Malcolm Arnold,  Dame Elizabeth Maconchy,  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Thea King
    Conductor:  Barry Wordsworth
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Centenary Tribute To Frederick Thurston
    Label: Clarinet Classics   Catalog: 10037 Release Date: 09/01/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Alan Rawsthorne,  Gordon Jacob,  Sir A. Bliss
    Performer:  Frederick Thurston,  Myers Foggin,  Thea King
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  • 15.
    Stanford, Finzi: Clarinet Concertos / Thea King, Et Al
    Label: Helios   Catalog: 55101 Release Date: 07/10/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Gerald Finzi
    Performer:  Thea King
    Conductor:  Alun Francis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Romberg, Fuchs: Clarinet Quintets;  Stanford / King, Et Al
    Label: Helios   Catalog: 55076 Release Date: 06/12/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Andreas Jakob Romberg,  Robert Fuchs
    Performer:  Thea King
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Britten String Quartet
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  • 17.
    Villa-lobos: Music For Flute / William Bennett, Et Al
    Label: Helios   Catalog: 55057 Release Date: 11/14/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Heitor Villa-Lobos
    Performer:  William Bennett,  Neil Black,  Robin O'Neill,  Janice Knight  ... 
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  • 18.
    Crusell: Clarinet Quartets / King, Allegri String Quartet
    Label: Helios   Catalog: 55031 Release Date: 11/16/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bernhard Henrik Crusell
    Performer:  Thea King
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Allegri String Quartet members
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  • 19.
    Murray Perahia - 25th Anniversary Edition
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 63380 Release Date: 11/18/1997   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johannes Brahms,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Murray Perahia,  Martin Lovett,  Peter Schidlof,  Norbert Brainin  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Murray Perahia
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra,  Chamber Orchestra of Europe,  Amadeus String Quartet members  ... 
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  • 20.
    English Music For Clarinet / Thea King, Clifford Benson
    Label: Hyperion Dyad   Catalog: 22027 Release Date: 09/09/1997   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Arnold Cooke,  Franz Reizenstein  ... 
    Performer:  Thea King,  Clifford Benson
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  • 21.
    The Clarinet In Concert - Bruch, Et Al / Thea King
    Label: Hyperion Dyad   Catalog: 22017 Release Date: 03/10/1997   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Gustaf Heinze,  August Julius Rietz,  Louis Spohr  ... 
    Performer:  Georgina Dobrée,  Thea King,  Nobuko Imai
    Conductor:  Alun Francis,  James Judd,  Andrew Litton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 22.
    Canteloube: Chants D'auvergne / Tortelier, Auger
    Label: Virgin Classics Special Import   Catalog: 61120 Release Date: 10/11/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Joseph Canteloube
    Performer:  Arleen Augér,  Neil Black,  Thea King
    Conductor:  Yan Pascal Tortelier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 23.
    Mozart: Clarinet Concerto, Clarinet Quintet / Thea King
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 66199 Release Date: 03/10/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Keith Harvey,  Kenneth Sillito,  Brendan O'Reilly,  Ian Jewel  ... 
    Conductor:  Jeffrey Tate
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gabrieli String Quartet,  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 24.
    Brahms: Clarinet Quintet, Clarinet Trio / King, Gabrieli
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 66107 Release Date: 02/18/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Thea King,  Karine Georgian,  Clifford Benson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gabrieli String Quartet
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  • 25.
    Complete Mozart Edition Vol 45 - Rarities & Surprises
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 422545 Release Date: 02/11/1992   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Susanne Mentzer,  Barbara Hendricks,  Andreas Röhn,  Erik Smith  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir Colin Davis,  Peter Schreier,  Kenneth Sillito
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields members,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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