US clarinettist. He studied at Yale University, and the Marlboro Music School, and was a teacher at the California Institute of the Arts (1970–75). He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1976, and played with the Amadeus Quartet at the 1978 Aldeburgh Festival. He gave other chamber concerts with the Cleveland, Vermeer, and Guarneri Quartets. In 1989 he made his debut at the London Promenade Concerts, with the Mozart concerto. He recorded the concertos of Copland and Corigliano.
Although some clarinettists have questioned certain liberties he took in his interpretations, such as his use of vibrato (a rapid fluctuation of pitch) and dynamic changes, which gave a more emotional tone than is traditional in classical music, he is acknowledged to be a master of the instrument. Without ever having held a chair in any major orchestra, he became a full-time solo clarinettist, performing a constant round of recitals with symphonic orchestras and chamber music groups.
Stoltzman was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and was raised in San Francisco from age four. His father played alto saxophone on weekends with a dance band, and Stoltzman started clarinet lessons at eight. Turned down by Eastman School of Music and Juilliard conservatory, he went to Ohio State and played in the football band and with Dixieland jazz groups. Going to Yale on a scholarship to take a master's degree in music in 1967, he was converted to the classical repertoire, although he retained his love for jazz. In 1970 he went to teach at the California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, California), and at the summer Marlboro Festivals in Vermont he joined with Peter Serkin and two string players to form the Tashi Quartet, and soon came to be known for his virtuoso playing.