Clarinetists are greatly indebted to Benny Goodman for some of our greatest twentieth century repertoire. His commissions brought about such works as Bartok's Contrasts and Stravinsky's Ebony concerto. Aaron Copland's Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra with Harp and Piano is another such commission, one which Copland eagerly accepted, stating, though, that it would have never occurred to him on his own to write a clarinet concerto.
Copland did not collaborate with Goodman in composing the work, although, Goodman did make several requests for modifications after the Concerto was presented to him. Copland complied, and in 1950, slightly more than two years after completion, Goodman gave the premiere.
Copland stated: "The clarinet Concerto is cast in a two-movement form, played without pause, and connected by a cadenza for the solo instrument. The first movement is simple in structure, based upon the usual A-B-A song form. The general character of this movement is lyric and expressive. The cadenza that follows introduces fragments of the melodic material to be heard in the second movement. the overall form of the final movement is that of a free rondo, with several side issues developed at some length."