The standard was set by Stanley Drucker, principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic, who is retiring at 80 after playing more than 10,000 concerts with the orchestra in his 62-year career.
On Thursday evening at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Drucker was soloist with the Philharmonic in Aaron Copland's Clarinet Concerto.
The new Guinness record was announced just after his performance, with the text: "The longest career as a clarinetist was achieved by Stanley Drucker (USA, b. 4 February 1929) who performed professionally for 62 years, 7 months, 1 day as of June 4, 2009."
From the stage, Drucker said, "This is unbelievable. I want to thank everyone in front of the stage, on the stage and backstage for giving me these memories of an amazing time, something that will stay with me for my lifetime."
Drucker has been with the orchestra longer than any other Philharmonic musician, heard live by more than 40 million people at more than 10,200 concerts. That's equivalent to 70 percent of all Philharmonic concerts since America's oldest orchestra was founded in 1842.
Drucker's final concert with the orchestra is to be on July 31 in Vail, Colo., where the Philharmonic plays during the summer.
He was 19 when he joined the orchestra in 1948 and was named principal clarinet in 1960 by Leonard Bernstein. Drucker has played under 400 conductors, from Bruno Walter and Zubin Mehta to the current, outgoing music director, Lorin Maazel.
Drucker's son, Leon, attained musical fame of his own as the longtime bassist for the rockabilly revival trio the Stray Cats, performing under the name Lee Rocker.
The clarinetist is the subject of a current exhibit at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall that includes photographs and music written for him, as well as videos of performances around the world. Drucker was on the Philharmonic's major international tours, from its first visit to the Soviet Union in 1959 to a recent trip to North Korea.
Danny Girton Jr., a Guinness adjudication executive, called the clarinetist's accomplishments "without question truly world-class."
Exclusive Video of Stanley Drucker played this live telecast in 1989.