Frederick Thurston

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Frederick Thurston
Born21 September 1901
OriginLichfield Staffordshire
Died12 December 1953(1953-12-12) (aged 52)
Years active1920s–1953

Frederick John Thurston (21 September 1901 – 12 December 1953) was an English clarinettist.


From the age of 7 he was taught by his father and he won an open scholarship to the Royal College of Music, becoming a pupil of Charles Draper. During the 1920s he played with the orchestra of the Royal Opera House and the BBC Wireless Orchestra before becoming principal clarinettist of the newly formed BBC Symphony Orchestra. He left the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1946 to concentrate on chamber music.[1]

He was also principal clarinet of The Philharmonia Orchestra and can be heard on the Toscanini recording of the Brahms Symphonies. Thurston can also be heard on Volume 1 of Historical Clarinet Recordings on the Victoria Soames Samek's Clarinet Classics CD Label.[2]

He gave the first performances of many new works, including Arnold Bax's Clarinet Sonata, Arthur Bliss's Clarinet Quintet and Gerald Finzi's Clarinet Concerto. Works dedicated to him include Malcolm Arnold's Clarinet Concerto No 1, Iain Hamilton's Three Nocturnes, Herbert Howells's Clarinet Sonata, John Ireland's Fantasy-Sonata, Gordon Jacob's Clarinet Quintet, Elizabeth Maconchy's Clarinet Concertino #1, Alan Rawsthorne's Clarinet Concerto and Freda Swain's Rhapsody.[1]

He taught at the Royal College of Music from 1930 to 1953.[1] In 1953 he married Thea King, one of his pupils, but died later the same year from lung cancer.[3]


  • Thurston, Frederick; A. Frank (1979) [1939]. The Clarinet: a Comprehensive Tutor for the Boehm Clarinet. London.
  • Thurston, Frederick (1940–41). "Clarinet Tone". Woodwind Year Book: 47ff.
  • Thurston, Frederick (1956). Clarinet Technique. London. ISBN 0-19-318603-9.
  • The Passage Studies Volume 1 ( Boosey & Hawkes )
  • The Passage Studies Volume 2 ( Boosey & Hawkes )
  • The Passage Studies Volume 3 ( Boosey & Hawkes )


  1. ^ a b c Robert Philip/Pamela Weston, 'Thurston, Frederick', Grove Music Online, accessed 30 June 2007
  2. ^ Clarinet
  3. ^ Pamela Weston/Robert Philip, 'King, Thea', Grove Music Online, accessed 30 June 2007.

Further reading[edit]

  • Weston, P. (1971). Clarinet Virtuosi of the Past. London. pp. 271–274.