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PASSINGS / Kalman Bloch

Clarinetist for Philharmonic

March 21, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Kalman Bloch, 95, principal clarinetist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic for nearly 45 years, died March 12 at his home in Los Angeles, according to his daughter, Michele Zukovsky, who is now one of the orchestra's co-principal clarinetists.

Bloch was born in New York on May 30, 1913, and attended Columbia College. He studied clarinet with Simeon Bellison, a legendary figure with the New York Philharmonic.

When Bloch was having trouble finding work during the Depression, Bellison encouraged him to send out resumes to 100 orchestras around the country. According to Zukovsky, the only one to respond was conductor Otto Klemperer, who was leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Bloch traveled to L.A. and auditioned privately for Klemperer before playing for the full orchestra hiring committee. He immediately got the job.

Bloch was principal first clarinetist from 1937 until his retirement in 1981. For many of those years, he played alongside his daughter.

Albert Goldberg, then the Times' music critic, wrote that Bloch's playing of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto on a program with the suite from Anton Berg's "Lulu" and Schumann's Fourth Symphony, with Georg Solti conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was one of the highlights of the 1960 musical season.

Bloch also performed with studio orchestras on several film soundtracks, including "Sunset Boulevard," "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "North by Northwest."

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